Michael Carter-Williams to Participate in Virtual Town Hall on Race Relations, Diversity, and Inclusion

Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings will host the online event on Wednesday starting at 6 p.m.
by John Denton

ORLANDO - Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings will host a virtual town hall meeting tonight at 6 p.m., featuring reserve Orlando Magic guard Michael Carter-Williams, that will be geared toward connecting with the county’s Generation Z community.

The event will feature a panel of Orange County Sheriff John Mina, Orlando Police Chief Orlando Rolon, Demings and Carter-Williams.

The Generation Z Edition Virtual Town Hall event is meant as a platform for local teens and young adults to voice their concerns on race relations, diversity, and inclusion.

Carter-Williams, who is in his second season with the Magic, was active in peaceful protests in the Central Florida community following the highly controversial death of George Floyd while in police custody in Minneapolis, Minn.

``I take these issues very (seriously) because they’re important,’’ Carter-Williams said. ``I’m happy that I was invited and I’m glad that Generation Z, teens and young adults, will be on the phone call just to discuss social injustices, diversity and social inclusion. I’m excited about it, excited to answer questions and hopefully I can bring this group closer together.

``I think everybody is in (agreement) that there is an issue here, so now I think it’s time to fix the problem,’’ Carter-Williams continued. ``I think a big issue is understanding, interacting with each other and asking the hard questions and discussing how you feel. If we get those feelings out and off our chest, we’ll be able to find room to grow. Then, maybe we can find some reasons why things happen and try to fix those things.’’

Carter-Williams recently participated in the Magic’s ``Walk With Us’’ video that asks for the community’s support in helping to stomp out racism in Central Florida while also attempting to enact social change to right injustices.

``I want to have everybody go check out our video that we made as a team called ``Walk With Us,’’ Carter-Williams said during a recent Zoom call with media. ``It’s a really inspiring video, and really heartfelt, and everybody should go and check it out.’’

Magic head coach Steve Clifford has had numerous talks with Carter-Williams about social injustices in the world. Clifford said the guard is serious about trying to create change that will be greatly impactful in the Central Florida community.

``He’s shown a great interest in being involved and rightly so, and he’s interested in working in the Orlando community,’’ Clifford said of the versatile guard. ``He is interested in keeping this conversation going about equality and the need to improve our local community with a positive change that’s needed. We’re not looking to do photo-ops; we’re trying to be involved in things that can bring sustainable change and meaningful change. We have a number of guys who are very serious about that, and I’d say he’s at the top of that list.’’

Carter-Williams said he has been extremely impressed with the hands-on effort that Clifford has had in trying to help enact social change in Central Florida. In addition to leading the way in getting Magic players to wear T-shirts asking fans to vote for change in their upcoming elections, Clifford recently joined an Orange County citizens’ taskforce that is aimed at trying to help enact social change that will ensure justice for all.

``Everybody knows that Coach Cliff is a great guy – on and off the court, he’s great,’’ Carter-Williams said of the coach he’s now played for in Charlotte and Orlando. ``I’ve been close to him a long time now. It’s great to see him become an advocate for everybody and being heavily involved. It speaks the type of person that he is, and I’ve grown closer to him from this. We’re able to talk about other things than just basketball. He’s doing a lot of things off the court, and we really appreciate it. It just builds more chemistry with all of us. If we’re talking about real-life matters, then it makes the on-the-court stuff easier to discuss. Just us talking to him off the floor, it builds our relationship on the floor.’’

Despite a making a position change and having to battle through a variety of shoulder injuries, Carter-Williams has become a vital part of the Magic’s regular rotation for a second straight season. Last season, Orlando signed Carter-Williams in mid-March and he was a driving force on the Magic squad that reached the playoffs for the first time since 2012. In addition to averaging 5.4 points, 4.8 rebounds and 4.1 assists in 12 regular-season games, he had eight points, six assists, five rebounds and a steal in Orlando’s Game 1 defeat of Toronto in the first round of the playoffs.

This season, the NBA’s stoppage in play hit just as Carter-Williams – a former Rookie of the Year award winner in 2014 – was playing some of the best basketball of his seven-year NBA career. In the Magic’s final regular-season game prior to the stoppage in play – a 120-115 win in Memphis on March 10 – Carter-Williams had 20 points, three rebounds, two steals and two 3-pointers to key a second-half rally.

In previous games against Houston (16 points, three assists, two rebounds and a steal), Minnesota (17 points, five assists and one steal) and Miami (10 points, three rebounds and two steals), Carter-Williams played well in place of the injured Evan Fournier and helped the Magic put together their best extended stretch of the season.

For the season, Carter-Williams has averaged 7.2 points, 3.3 rebounds, 2.4 assists and 1.1 steals as a valuable member of the Magic’s second unit.

Now, following a four-month break from NBA basketball, he knows he must try and recapture the same sort of rhythm and flow that he had in early March when he helped Orlando win three in a row, six of nine and eight of 12 games.

``Obviously, I think back to how we were all in rhythm and how I was in rhythm myself and I wish we could have keep it going, but obviously there were bigger things on the table,’’ Carter-Williams said of the COVID-19 pandemic that caused the NBA to stop play. ``I wasn’t too frustrated because it is what it is. I was of the mindset of, `What can I do to stay in shape?’ I hope to get back to that level again.’’

Note: The contents of this page have not been reviewed or endorsed by the Orlando Magic. All opinions expressed by John Denton are solely his own and do not reflect the opinions of the Orlando Magic or their Basketball Operations staff, partners or sponsors.

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