Magic CEO Alex Martins Reacts to Tragedy in Orlando

Dan Savage
Director of Digital News

June 13, 2016

Mike Bianchi: Let’s welcome in Orlando Magic CEO Alex Martins, a man who has lived in this community a long, long time and has seen the good and the bad and now he has seen the very worst the city has ever endured. Alex, how do you make any sense of this?

Alex Martins: Well, good morning Mike. I’m sorry to speak under these tragic circumstances. First, I would say that our thoughts and prayers go out to the families and friends of those who were tragically taken from us yesterday morning. I would also say that our thanks and our hearts go out to our first responders Chief (John) Mina and Sherriff (Jerry) Demings and all of the police officers that have responded and saved lives during this. And our fire departments, they’ve done a spectacular job and we just want to thank them for their service and everything that they’ve done to help during this tragic time.

Mike, you can’t make any sense of it. It’s a heinous act of hate. As we always do in this Central Florida community, we need to come together. And we need to try to band together as a community over this senseless tragedy and help educate people and bring them together. And create an atmosphere in our community as we do of inclusion and acceptance. And help educate people that these kind of things cannot happen, particularly in our community of Orlando, Florida.

Mike Bianchi: Alex, how do you heal from this?

Alex Martins: Well Mike, our community will heal because there are so many great things about our Central Florida community, including the fact that we are a community of inclusion and acceptance. We need to band together as we do during difficult times. And certainly the things that we have been through in the past pale in comparison to what happened to our community, and quite frankly our country and the world, over the weekend with Orlando as the focal point. Our community does a great job of coming together, whatever situation it is, that we need to come together to improve or heal and I know our community will. As a sports organization, we have the forum, we have the opportunity, we have the podium to be able to help our community heal and we’re going to do that. In the NBA in particular led by our Commissioner Adam Silver and David Stern before him, we’ve always been and will always be a league of inclusion and acceptance. We have celebrated that in many, many forms in our league, in our team, in our community and we will continue to do that. And we will utilize our podium, our forum as an opportunity to help the families that have been personally impacted by this, to help our community heal and to create the forum for our community to truly continue to be one of inclusion and acceptance for everybody in our Central Florida community.

Mike Bianchi: How can sports help a community heal? Is it just go out and entertain? How do you do it?

Alex Martins: No, it’s not just about entertainment. Of course, that’s our business and it helps distract people from the things that are of concern to them. In some ways, we will do that. But most importantly, we’re a forum because of the mass amount of people that follow us whether it’s through social media or through our fans or through our broadcasts, we have a forum to help educate. And we’ve tried to do that at the Orlando Magic in many, many different forums through our associations. Through the Chamber of Commerce for example, that celebrates every gender, ethnicity in our community, we’ll continue to do that. We’ll continue to partner with those in the LGBT community as we have over the course of the past several years to help educate our fans about the differences that exist among all of us. And we will also utilize our podium as a forum to help raise funds for those that have been personally impacted by this and need our financial assistance.

We have a great forum as a sports team with the hundreds of thousands and millions of followers of our league. I can’t tell you the outpouring of support that we as an organization have received from all of our member teams throughout the NBA over the course of the past 24 hours. It was overwhelming to me yesterday, the number of teams and the league – one of the first people that reached out to me yesterday morning was Commissioner Adam Silver, pledging his support and the support of the league to help our community heal, to help our community in any way that is necessary as a league to help us rebound from this tragic situation. We have an incredible network of sports teams and sports leagues and sports organizations, not just in this community, but throughout our entire country that stand ready to assist whether it’s financially or whether it’s through education or whether it’s utilizing the power and the forum of sport that we have to help impact the world.

We’ve done it in so many other instances. The sports world was one of the first to react after 9/11 and help in any way that they could in the New York City area and in Washington D.C. and the other communities that were affected by 9/11. I can remember in similar scale, in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, the NBA was one of the first leagues to go in immediately after and keep All-Star game there and have a complete day dedicated to service to rebuilding the Ninth Ward. These are the things that we have the forum and the podium to do as sports teams, because of our notoriety, because of our popularity. It’s our responsibility and we take it seriously. And we will utilize that podium and that forum to help those families who have been tragically impacted and to also help our community heal, particularly through education and helping our entire community understand that we are a community of differences. And we need to accept those differences and we need to embrace them. We truly need to come together like we come together at sports events. The interesting thing about sports events is that people from all walks of life come and cheer for one thing, one team. That’s what we need to do in this instance as a community. We need to band together in that same way to help rebound from this and to help those who have been personally impacted by it.

Mike Bianchi: You’ve been in this community a long time, how troubling is it that Orlando, the happiest place on Earth is now one of the most violent places on Earth, it seems like?

Alex Martins: Well, first of all, it certainly hurts. It hurts as someone who has lived in this community for some 25 years. You certainly hope that these things never happen in the world, Mike. And when they happen in other places, you certainly don’t believe that they can happen in your hometown. And unfortunately now, it’s happened. We will rebound from this. We will not be defined by this, because as a city, as a community, as a Central Florida community, we are much more than what one person can have an impact on us on. We are millions of Central Floridians that have developed this community. We’ve come together on many, many occasions to make this community better. And we will come together in this instance and rebound and ultimately get on the other side of this and get back to being the happiest place on Earth. We cannot be defined by one individual who had unbelievable hate, because that is not who we are as a community. We’re a community that truly comes together. We’re a community of inclusion. We’re a community of acceptance. And we will rebound from this, but it’s going to take some time. And we need to lean on each other and help each other get through this as a community. And ultimately we will come out on the other side of this and we will be Orlando as we have been and come together in a way that we always have.

Listen to the entire interview here.