Mo Bamba, Steve Clifford Continue to Encourage People to Vote

Bamba, Clifford and local leaders were at Amway Center to support National Voter Registration Day
by Josh Cohen

ORLANDO - Orlando Magic center Mo Bamba learned at an early age just how important it is to vote. In his case, it was while he was a student in grade school when he discovered what it means to have a say and make an impact.

“It was all class president type stuff,” the 22-year-old recalls. “I’ve learned pretty much the basics of any type of democracy, whether it was (for) class president or if you’re voting for a government official.”

Now, with him on the verge of casting his first vote in a U.S. presidential election, Bamba is excited to have a say in how the country is run. On top of that, the NBA 7-footer is doing his part to encourage others to vote and make a difference as well.

On Tuesday, Sept. 22, Bamba was at Amway Center cheering on local residents who were registering to vote or checking their voter registration status. Also present were Magic Head Coach Steve Clifford, Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer and Supervisor of Elections Bill Cowles. Souvenirs such as Magic t-shirts and mini soft squeeze basketballs were handed out to the residents.

Bamba’s message to those who are on the fence about whether they are going to vote or not is simple and direct.

“It’s to get out there and vote. It’s get out there, educate yourself and vote,” he said. “Often times, people ask me who are you voting for, are you pledging for one person or another and I tell them the message isn’t necessarily who to vote for, but it’s just to get out there and vote.”

Earlier this month, the Magic and the City of Orlando announced that Amway Center will be an early voting location for Orange County residents. From Oct. 19 until Nov. 1 (8 a.m. to 8 p.m. each day), registered voters from the county will be able to cast their ballot at the Magic’s home arena on the north side of the building at the Church Street entrance inside the Disney Atrium.

Clifford, who recently celebrated “Desmond Meade Day” by touring around Orlando with the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition (FRRC) leader and encouraged people to be more involved in their community, is extremely proud of Bamba and the rest of the team for the action they are taking to make positive changes.

A big wakeup call for NBA players, he says, came inside the Disney campus when L.A. Clippers coach Doc Rivers addressed the players during a critical meeting following the Milwaukee Bucks’ decision to boycott a playoff game, which was supported by all the other teams.

“Doc Rivers gave a powerful speech to everyone and explained to the players that in 2016 only twenty-one percent of our players voted,” Clifford said. “We’re in a different place now, but since then registration on NBA rosters is now sky high and I would dare to say that a much larger percentage of our league will vote this time.”

The Magic, as an entire organization, have been doing everything in their power to increase voter turnout. Opening up the arena for early voting is one major way. Another, as Clifford pointed out, is through the Magic’s social media accounts, which reach a great deal of people, especially younger people who may have never voted before.

All of the activity at Disney during the NBA season restart has also been huge in spreading the word.

“I think it’s played a part in keeping the conversation going, making awareness stronger across the country,” Clifford said. “If you look at all the sporting events, the WNBA, what the NFL players are doing. People are doing it in different ways. But it’s important because to get the kind of positive, sustainable change that hopefully everybody wants, it’s not going to happen overnight…There’s nothing more important than educating yourself about who the candidates are, what they stand for and what they’ll do if we vote them into office.”

Get Off The Bench. Get Into the Game. VOTE.

Prepare now to vote in the general election this November.

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