WASHINGTON, D.C. - The Orlando Magic have been one of the NBA’s most improved teams this season. They’ve already won 10 more games than last season, with six still left to play.
Along the journey, they got healthier, which was critical for their growth. They also developed a defensive-based identity, which usually leads to greater long-term success.
Another key has been their team chemistry. A high level of trust has been built within this group.
Not only have they bonded through all their basketball-related activities, but they’ve also formed a stronger connection through team outings and functions.
Two examples occurred over the last several days.
This past Saturday, the entire team attended the Orlando Wine Festival and Auction, which raised money for the Orlando Magic Youth Foundation (OMYF). Then on Wednesday, while in Washington, D.C. for their upcoming game against the Wizards, the team visited and toured the National Museum of African American History and Culture.
“Just having everyone here from the top of the organization all the way to the last man – I think it’s very important that guys all showed up to learn a little something about our history,” Magic center Wendell Carter Jr. said. “Sometimes we get caught up in the game of basketball so much that we forget we are still humans at the end of the day and learning about our history is very important. I’m glad that we were all able to be here today.”
Carter was in awe of all that he saw and learned at the museum, which opened in 2016. The last exhibit on the tour, which Carter says was his favorite, featured sports-related artifacts such as equipment, awards, uniforms, and posters that help highlight the tremendous impact African American athletes have made on our society.
“Being able to see the evolution of the game of basketball – how it started off from the women’s perspective and from the men’s perspective to where we are now,” Carter said. “Our host (Sports Curator Damion Thomas) did a really good job of explaining everything to us. This is definitely the most impactful part of the tour.”
Now in his fifth NBA season, Carter has made incredible strides since joining the Magic in March 2021 following a blockbuster trade from the Bulls. Not only has he been playing his best basketball of his career this season, averaging a career-high 15.6 points on nearly 53 percent shooting from the field, but he has also become one of Central Florida’s most prominent philanthropists.
On Saturday, during the Orlando Wine Festival and Auction, the 23-year-old was named the winner of the Rich & Helen DeVos Community Enrichment Award, which goes to the Magic player each season that goes above and beyond volunteering their time in the community.
“It feels amazing,” said Carter, the 19th Magic player to ever earn this honor. “It’s very special just as a team trying to serve and give back to the community…I’m excited and looking forward to doing it again next year.”