Denton's Notebook: Friday, March 29

By John Denton
March 29, 2013

ORLANDO– The Orlando Magic Youth Foundation’s Black Tie and Tennies Charity Gala, held last Saturday night at the Amway Center for more than 700 Magic fans, raised $547,308 with matching funds at $0.50 on the dollar provided by the McCormick Foundation. All proceeds benefit the OMYF.

Over the last 23 years, the OMYF has distributed more than $18 million to local nonprofit community organizations. For a third year in a row, OMYF donated $1 million to 17 nonprofits organizations throughout Central Florida. And in the coming months, OMYF will award scholarships to students totaling $12,000.

The $547,308 raised at this year’s gala came through silent and live auctions and various donations. Fans interacted with Magic players and coaches throughout the event. And the night was topped off with veteran Magic point guard Jameer Nelson winning the Rich and Helen DeVos Community Enrichment award.

``The Orlando Magic is built to be a cornerstone of this community,’’ Magic CEO Alex Martins said. ``When the team succeeds, this community succeeds. And when a community succeeds, we are all winners. I also want to recognize the collaborative effort of this community, the DeVos family, our players, coaches, staff, corporate partners, season ticket holders and fans that make our gala such an incredible success each year. It is a complete team effort and we are so grateful for all of the support.’’

ALL PACKED UP: If experiencing his first NBA season has taught Magic rookie guard DeQuan Jones anything, it’s the importance of properly packing for long roadtrips.

The Magic were scheduled to leave following Friday’s home game against Washington for a five-game, 10-night trip. Orlando will play in Atlanta (Saturday), Houston (Monday), San Antonio (Wednesday), Chicago (Friday) and Cleveland (Sunday).

It’s the third trip of the season that has spanned at least nine days. Because Orlando played Friday night, the players had to be packed before the game, and Jones joked that he still doesn’t put as much thought into packing as he should.

``I just throw as much stuff in a bag as I can and hope for the best,’’ Jones joked. ``Hey, black shoes go with everything. I still have a checklist and my mom will text me and say, `Do you have enough pairs of clean socks?’ But my mom always tells me that I look good.

``One time this year, I didn’t bring any undershirts and I had a button-down (shirt) with nothing underneath, so I had to run out and get some,’’ Jones continued. ``I fold all my clothes up and give them their proper respect.’’

Jones said when it comes to remembering which hotel room he’s in, he learned a nifty trick to keep them from all blending with one another. That was a problem early in the year, however.

``I’ve gotten better at that because what we (five rookies) do is take a picture of the door,’’ Jones said. ``In Toronto I might be in Room 101 and then Cleveland I’ve gone to Room 101 and wonder why my key doesn’t work. Then I got to lobby and make a big fuss. So I’ve learned it’s best to take a picture of the door.’’

ETC: Magic center Nikola Vucevic, who missed his fifth straight game on Friday night after receiving a concussion last Tuesday in Indiana, was back on the court Friday morning getting in some light shooting drills. Under the NBA’s concussion protocol, Vucevic has to go through a gradual process of return where he is completely symptom-free, he rides a stationary bike, runs on the treadmill and goes through some non-contact drills. Then, he must go through a practice and be analyzed by an independent neurosurgeon, before being cleared to play again. Said Magic coach Jacque Vaughn of Vucevic, who third in the NBA in rebounding at 11.5 boards a game: ``He still hasn’t been handed over to me yet (by the doctors), and I’ll like that step the best. But it’s good to see him out there with Coach (James) Borrego and getting some shots up.’’ … Jones’ alama mater, the University of Miami, fell to Marquette on Thursday night in the Sweet 16 round of the NCAA Tournament. Despite the loss, Jones said the future is bright for the program under head coach Jim Larranaga. ``There’s been tremendous growth there, especially under Coach L. I think we set a precedent,’’ Jones said. ``Even though we came up short, we made it to the Sweet 16. And that’s big for a program that always underachieved and had the talent. I think it set a precedent for the future. Under Coach L’s direction, we’re headed for great things.’’ … Vaughn said much of the Magic’s success in future years is riding on the gradual improvement of rookies Maurice Harkless, Kyle O’Quinn, Andrew Nicholson and Jones and second-year players Tobias Harris and Vucevic. That’s why this entire season has focused so much so on the development of Orlando’s young players. Said Vaughn: ``The maturation process is how we get better. You want those guys to grown their games. For us to get better, our young guys have to be better. The growth of their games will help our organization get better.’’

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