ORLANDO - As they have done so many times before in instances of local and national crisis, the DeVos family – owners of the Orlando Magic, Lakeland Magic and Orlando Solar Bears – have pledged financial assistance to those in need in Central Florida.
The DeVos family has backed a $2 million compensation fund for hourly employees of the Magic, Amway Center, Lakeland Magic and Solar Bears while their seasons are suspended due to the COVID-19 outbreak. Approximately 1,800 part-time employees will be assisted and receive paychecks for missed games through what would have been the end of the regular season based on data related to previous individual games worked.
``The people behind our teams are family to us and it’s our honor to provide assistance to those adversely impacted during this trying time,’’ Magic Chairman Dan DeVos said.
Several Magic players also want to do their part to help out those whose jobs have been displaced by the suspensions of the seasons. Magic players Nikola Vucevic, Aaron Gordon, Markelle Fultz, Jonathan Isaac, D.J. Augustin, Michael Carter-Williams, Mo Bamba and Al-Farouq Aminu have also pledged various amounts to assist in the funding for employees who work mostly behind the scenes during games.
The DeVos family has a long history of helping out in times of need in Central Florida. In 2004, following the devastation caused by Hurricane Charley, the DeVos family donated $1 million to relief efforts in Orange, Seminole, Osceola, Volusia and Polk Counties. Also, the DeVos family contributed $400,000 to the One Orlando Fund in 2016 following the tragedy at the Pulse Nightclub in Orlando.
Last Wednesday, following a Utah Jazz player testing positive for the coronavirus, the NBA announced that it was immediately suspending its season. Soon after, all major sports followed by suspending their seasons for an indefinite period of time.
Last Thursday, Magic CEO Alex Martins promised that employees who work for the NBA, G League and ECHL franchises owned by the DeVos family would be cared for during this period when hourly employment opportunities obviously would be curtailed. On Monday, Martins spoke with pride about how the DeVos family once again provided financial assistance to those who might need it.
``As stated last week, the DeVos family has a history of stepping up during challenging times,’’ Martins said in a statement. ``Today is no different. If someone is losing a paycheck because we are not playing, they will be fairly compensated.’’
The suspension of the NBA season came just as the Magic (30-35) were starting to play their best basketball of the season. Orlando won three games in a row, six of nine and eight of 12 prior to the season being put on hold in an attempt to curb the spread of the coronavirus.
The Magic have already missed two games because of the season suspension: Thursday at home against the Chicago Bulls and Sunday at the Amway Center against the Charlotte Hornets. Orlando was originally scheduled to play 10 of its final 17 regular-season games at the Amway Center. It is not known if or when those games will be played.
The Magic were originally in line to play six straight games against foes with losing records (Bulls, Hornets, Pistons, Cavaliers, Kings, Nets). Not only are they 10-1 against those six teams this season, but they are 23-9 against foes with losing records.
The Magic’s hope, of course, was to use that stretch to eventually overtake the Brooklyn Nets for the East’s coveted No. 7 seed. As the teams currently sit, the eighth-seeded Magic have a comfortable lead for the final playoff spot, but they are a half-game back of the seventh-seeded Nets. Orlando is 2-0 this season against Brooklyn and the two teams were originally scheduled to play twice more – once at the Barclays Center (March 23) and once at the Amway Center (March 27). Time will ultimately tell if those games are played.
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