By Josh Cohen Nov. 7, 2017
ORLANDO – When he heard about an opportunity to assist in an NBA Cares Hoops for Troops event, Marreese Speights was eager to participate and honor those who have paved the way for his freedom and happiness. It means a lot to him to meet active and retired U.S. military personnel and show his gratitude for their bravery.
It was especially significant for the 10-year NBA journeyman because his grandfather was in the military and he’s always excited to learn about how soldiers prepare for missions and the courage they exhibit to protect the country.
Through the Department of Defense’s “Commitment to Service” initiative and in advance of the Magic’s Seats for Soldiers Night presented by Harris Corporation, Speights, Community Ambassadors Nick Anderson and Bo Outlaw and other Orlando Magic staff helped refurbish Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 4287 in Orlando. Also on hand to assist was Nicolette Vucevic, wife of Magic center Nikola Vucevic.
“I’m honored to be here,” Speights said. “My grandad was one of the troops. I always have respect for them. They do a lot of things for us on an everyday basis.”
Likewise, for the soldiers themselves, they are incredibly appreciative of the support they receive from professional sports teams and athletes. It’s encouraging, as Post 4287 Commander Roger Schwartz emphasizes, that teams like the Magic and players such as Speights are attentive to their services and programs.
“We are so glad that the Magic got behind us on this and we would like to say thank you all very much,” Schwartz said. “It’s really nice to have the backing of them (NBA players).”
The revamped look, which includes freshly painted walls on the inside and new gardening on the exterior, will help Schwartz and other military personnel continue to provide supportive programs to veterans, service members and their families.
“It’s a brotherhood,” he said. “What we are trying to do basically right now is get younger members into our post. That would be wonderful.”
The Magic will continue to honor military men, women and their families during Wednesday’s game against the New York Knicks. For the 14th consecutive year, Seats for Soldiers Night will feature several events, activities, giveaways, entertainment and memorials.
Cheer cards will be handed out to the first 5,000 fans at the door, a military-themed Fan Fest will take place before the game and be open to the public and the Magic, Harris, Anheuser-Busch and Levy Restaurants will host a postgame reception for 50 preselected active and retired military personnel and their families. This reception will include food and beverage, courtesy of Levy Restaurants, along with a meet and greet opportunity with Speights.
“The Orlando Magic are once again truly honored to recognize all of the brave men and women who sacrifice so much in service of our great country,” Magic CEO Alex Martins said. “Together with Harris Corporation we want to thank those in uniform, our veterans, and their families for the sacrifices they make on a daily basis. We want them to know they are our heroes.”