Orlando Magic CEO Alex Martins Named to Orlando Magazine’s Most Powerful People List
By John Denton
July 1, 2013
ORLANDO – With the Orlando Magic facing a major makeover last summer, ownership entrusted CEO Alex Martins to make the critical decisions that would undoubtedly shape the future of the team for years to come. Not surprisingly, Martins aced each task – a hallmark of his leadership of the Magic.
Not long after Martins hired a rising star in NBA circles in Rob Hennigan, he oversaw the addition of promising Head Coach Jacque Vaughn and the blockbuster Dwight Howard trade that brought the Magic several stellar young building blocks.
That kind of impressive work has helped Martins, 48, remain as a fixture in Orlando Magazine’s “50 Most Powerful People in Orlando” list. Already a “Hall of Power” member after ranking in the top five for the past five years, Martins comes in ranked ninth in this year’s prestigious ranking. And earlier this year Martins ranked fourth in Orlando Sentinel columnist Scott Maxwell’s “The 25 Most Powerful People in Central Florida” list.
Martins made history in 2012 when he became the first private citizen to ever rank at the top of the list after the mayors of Orlando and Orange County and UCF’s president – all public employees – had dominated the list’s top spot for several years.
Martins, the Magic’s CEO since December of 2012, is joined by luminaries such as Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer (No. 1), Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs (No. 2) and UCF president Dr. John Hitt (No. 3) at the top of the prestigious list.
Martins’ rise to power in the Orlando business community is quite remarkable considering that he got his start with the Magic as a public relations director in 1989. Since then, he’s steadily made the climb through the Magic’s leadership structure to where he now runs the day-to-day operations.
Because Martins is so familiar with virtually every aspect of the organization, who better to make the decisions that have helped the Magic have a history of success on the floor and in the Central Florida community? Martins wisely plucked Hennigan away from the Okalahoma City Thunder, a franchise that made it to the NBA Finals in 2012. And he hired Head Coach Jacque Vaughn away from San Antonio, a franchise that has won four titles and nearly captured another one this season. Rebuilding the Magic with people who have experienced championship success before was a major priority, Martins said.
The Magic were a team in transition during the 2012-13 season as Hennigan worked to revamp the roster with young, promising talent. Martins is confident that in due time the Magic will be back on top again in the East and competing for an NBA championship.
History tells him so.
Just two years after winning top picks in 1992 and ’93, the Magic were in the NBA Finals in 1995. Forced to rebuild in 1999, Orlando fielded one of its most popular teams with the fans – the famed “Heart and Hustle” squad of 1999-00 – and then signed superstars Grant Hill and Tracy McGrady as free agents.
And not long after getting Howard with the top pick in the 2004 NBA Draft, the Magic became champions of the Eastern Conference in 2009 and were back in the NBA Finals. Now, with the Magic fully immersed in another makeover with new direction in the GM and coaching positions, Martins can see the Magic making the kind of systematic decisions that will yield major success in the coming years.
“We have proven now time and time again over 25 years that when we go through a transition period we come out of it quickly. And we come out of it to the extent where we are competitive at the highest levels of the NBA,” Martins said recently.
“The statistics bear (the quick turnaround) out,” Martins continued. “In my opinion, we’re setting ourselves up to be successful moving forward. And in the very near future, we’ll be in a position again to compete for a conference championship and a NBA championship. All of the moves made this year and the ones to come in the future will be done in order to build that success on the court.”
In addition to reconstructing the Magic’s leadership team within the basketball operations staff, some of Martins’ finest work came in 2010 when he oversaw the construction of the dazzling Amway Center. The facility, considered the finest in the NBA by many and quite possibly the best in the world, was honored with the “2013 Customer Experience Award” by The Stadium Business Awards in June. The Amway Center was also previously named the “Sports Facility of the Year” by the SportsBusiness Journal.
Martins, who is leading the Magic into their 25th-year silver anniversary, is also intent on the Magic being champions in the community as well on the basketball court. Just last year, Martins helped to convince Gov. Rick Scott to approve the SunRail project and helped to lure the Burnham Institute for Medical Research to Central Florida. As if that weren’t enough, Martins also helped to broker approval for construction of the Performing Arts Center, which is being built just blocks away from the Amway Center.
Working for years to channel the vision of legendary Magic owner Rich DeVos, who has always stressed that the Magic should be a vehicle to promote positive change in the community, Martins is as active in the community as he is with the Magic. He serves on the boards for the Metro Orlando Economic Development Commission, Visit Orlando, Coalition for the Homeless of Central Florida and others.
Martins’ commitment to the community was further evidenced in the spring when he helped the Magic re-open an 11th remodeled Reading and Learning Center in Central Florida. The Magic, along with Kia and Turner Construction, have renovated reading and learning labs/rooms at the Rosemont Community Center; Dr. James R. Smith Neighborhood Center; Downtown Recreation Center; Northwest Community Center; Jackson Community Center computer lab presented by Hunt; Colonialtown Neighborhood Center; Hi-Tech Tutoring Reading and Learning Center; Pine Hills Community Center; Nap Ford Community School; John H. Bridges Community Center Apopka Boys and Girls Club; and the New Image Youth Center in Parramore all presented by Kia Motors.
“We say that we want to be world champions not just on the court, but off the court as well and this is a big part of it,” Martins said. “The kids are incredibly important to us and always have been for 25 years.”