Darrell Armstrong, the guard who came out of obscurity to have a distinguished nine-year career with the Orlando Magic, will be honored Friday night as part of the team’s 25th anniversary season.
The Magic will recognize Armstrong during a center court presentation at the end of the first quarter of their game against the Washington Wizards. He will also join Paul Kennedy and Nick Anderson for part of the Magic Live pregame show on FOX Sports Florida and sit alongside David Steele and Jeff Turner during the second quarter of the game telecast.
Armstrong, who is now an assistant coach with the Dallas Mavericks, ranks fifth on the Magic’s all-time list in games played with 502 and trails only Anderson in career steals with 830. In 1999, he became the first player in NBA history to win the awards for Most Improved Player and Sixth Man of the Year in the same season.
John Gabriel, the general manager of the Magic at the time, signed Armstrong toward the end of the 1994-95 season. Before then, Armstrong had played in the United States Basketball League and overseas after going undrafted out of Fayetteville State. He even worked the night shift at a yarn factory in his hometown of Gastonia, N.C.
Armstrong led the Magic in scoring, assists, steals and minutes played during the 1999-2000 season when they came within a game of making the playoffs in what was expected to be a rebuilding season under first-year coach Doc Rivers.
He was their leader in free-throw percentage for seven consecutive seasons (1996-2003), finishing at a 88.8 percent clip with the Magic, a mark that included 47 in a row during one stretch. Only Scott Skiles (89.2 percent) has been more accurate in team history.
Armstrong was also the team leader in assists and steals for four years in a row.
One of the top 25 moments in franchise history, as chosen by the Magic, came in March 1999 when Armstrong stole an inbounds pass at midcourt and raced to the other end for a game-winning layup as time expired to give the Magic a victory over Allen Iverson and the Philadelphia 76ers.
Armstrong averaged 11.7 points a game before leaving the Magic in the summer of 2003 to sign with the New Orleans Hornets. He later spent two seasons with the Mavericks, including the team that reached the Finals in 2006 but lost in six games to the Miami Heat.