Steve Clifford Continues Magic's Aid to Those Impacted by Coronavirus
By John Denton
April 15, 2020
ORLANDO - In his nearly two seasons with the Orlando Magic, head coach Steve Clifford has done plenty to help make the franchise become a perennial playoff team once again.
Now, Clifford is doing what he can to help those in need in the Central Florida community during this time of tremendous crisis.
Clifford recently made a monetary donation to the Heart of Florida United Way for their fund to support Central Florida residents whose financial stability is being impacted by the coronavirus. The focus of the fund is to support the A.L.I.C.E. (Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed) population who are experiencing hardships due to decreased hours or unpaid leave. Nearly half of Central Floridians are categorized under A.L.I.C.E. while living paycheck to paycheck. Because thousands of people in the area have either lost their jobs or have been unable to work due to the coronavirus pandemic, those numbers continue to skyrocket each day in Central Florida.
``Our organization’s thoughts are with everyone impacted during this unprecedented time,’’ Clifford said in a release.
Clifford is no stranger to giving to those in need in the Central Florida area. This past Thanksgiving Clifford paid to feed more than 750 homeless men, women and children at the Coalition for the Homeless of Central Florida.He has done so during each of his two seasons in Orlando as the Magic’s head coach.
Clifford, who returned to Orlando as head coach in May of 2018, guided last season’s Magic squad to a 42-40 record and it owned the NBA’s biggest win differential (plus-17 victories) from a season prior. Clifford guided the Magic back to the playoffs for the first time since 2012 – a year when he, not coincidentally, worked as an assistant coach on the Magic. Clifford was previously an assistant coach in Orlando from 2007-12 – a time period when Orlando made the playoffs five straight seasons, won six playoff series and reached the NBA Finals in 2009 and the Eastern Conference Finals in 2010.
This season, Clifford’s Magic had to battle through several debilitating waves of injuries, but they appear to be in position for another playoff run. At the time of the NBA being suspended on March 11, the Magic (30-35) had won three consecutive games, six of nine and nine of the last 12. The Magic currently sit in the No. 8 spot in the Eastern Conference, but they trail the seventh-seeded Brooklyn Nets by just a half-game.
Clifford’s care for the community and those being adversely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic is a continuation of the work that’s been done by the Magic in recent weeks.
The DeVos family, owners of the Magic for nearly 29 seasons, were among the first franchises in the sports world to pledge a $2 million fund to ensure that hourly employees will continue to be paid while seasons for the Magic, Lakeland Magic and the Orlando Solar Bears are suspended. Approximately 1,800 part-time employees, including those at the Amway Center, will be assisted and receive paychecks for missed games through what would have been the end of the regular season based on data related to previous individual games worked.
Magic centers Nikola Vucevic and Mo Bamba also stepped up and assisted in the payments of those workers with financial contributions of their own.
Most recently, the Magic, AdventHealth and the City of Orlando partnered together to use the Amway Center as a medical equipment and supply hub during the treatment of the virus sweeping the globe.
Magic forward Jonathan Isaac invested and assisted a program started by Project Life, Inc. and J.U.M.P. Ministries to feed those in need. According to Isaac, the group – which is serving hot meals five days a week from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. – has fed thousands of Central Floridians in need. Fellow third-year forward Wes Iwundu has assisted Isaac and others with the purchase of supplies and serving those in need. Others in the community wanting to donate can do so by logging onto ProjectLifeNow.org.
Magic forward Aaron Gordon made financial contributions to the homeless children’s fund of Orange County Public Schools and My New Red Shoes to help out those in need. Similarly, point guard D.J. Augustin made a charitable donation to Krewe of Red Beans, a nonprofit organization that serves food to front-line medical workers in his boyhood home of New Orleans, which has been one of the nation’s hardest-hit cities by the coronavirus.
Also, Magic Gaming and a group of Magic television and radio broadcasters have launched donation drives to raise money for Second Harvest Food Bank. Fans can donate by visiting https://donatenow.networkforgood.org/omyf and designating ``Christian Service Center’’ or ``Second Harvest Food Bank’’ for their donation.
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