By John Denton
Oct. 24, 2017
ORLANDO – On Tuesday night, the Orlando Magic unveiled the patch on their jerseys that they will wear the rest of the season to honor the late Helen J. DeVos, wife of owner Rich DeVos.
All of Orlando’s jerseys for the season will feature a black stripe across the left side of the tank top with the letters “HDV.’’ The Magic also planned to hold a moment of silence inside the Amway Center on Tuesday night to honor the passing of Mrs. DeVos.
Mrs. DeVos, a difference-making philanthropist for decades in her native Michigan and Florida, died last Wednesday following complications from a stroke. She was 90 years old and was laid to rest this past weekend in the family’s Memorial Gardens in Ada, Mich.
Mrs. DeVos is credited with shaping much of the Magic’s strong commitment to giving back to those most in need. The Magic annually donate more than $2 million to the Central Florida community by way of sponsored events, donated tickets, autographed merchandise and grants. Magic community programs impact an estimated 100,000 children annually and the Orlando Magic Youth Foundation has donated more than $22 million to local non-profit organizations over the past 27 years.
“I would describe her as the heart of the DeVos family and this organization,’’ Magic CEO Alex Martins said of Mrs. DeVos, who led the family in giving $9 million to the University of Central Florida for the DeVos Sport Business Management Program. “She’s best known in Grand Rapids (Mich.) for being an incredible philanthropist and that’s what she’s conveyed to us as an organization for 27 years – it’s about giving back. She has always taught us to make sure that we support those who need our help and she was the creator of the Rich and Helen DeVos Community Enrichment award, which encourages our players to give back to the community. She was a true matriarch, she loved this team and she watched every game.’’
BIRTHDAY BOY/STAR WARS GEEK: Magic center is such a hard-core fan of the “Star Wars’’ movie series that he held out hope on Tuesday morning that there would be a 7,500-piece Lego Millennium Falcon replica or a painting of Darth Vader at home waiting for him as a present for his 27th birthday.
Vucevic, the longest-tenured Orlando player at six seasons, celebrated at the team’s morning shoot-around practice by having Magic rookies Jonathan Isaac, Wes Iwundu and Khem Birch sing “Happy Birthday’’ to him. Afterward, Vucevic was hoping that either his wife, Nikoletta, or someone in his family bought him a “Star Wars’’ themed gift so that he could add to his already extensive collection.
Unabashedly, the Magic standout refers to himself as a “geek’’ when it comes to his love for anything “Star Wars’’ related.
“I don’t have the full (Darth Vader) costume because most of them are too short and it comes to here (mid-arm) and I would just look stupid,’’ the 7-foot Vucevic said with a laugh. “But I have a mask that changes your voice and I have a light saber. Yes, I’m a geek. I use (the voice-altering mask) a lot at night when we go to sleep to scare my wife. I’ll hide and say stuff and she gets scared because she doesn’t know where it’s coming from. Or I will turn on the light saber from time to time in the dark and it’s always funny.’’
GROWTH FOR GORDON: Magic forward Aaron Gordon made his return to the starting lineup on Tuesday night after missing two games with lingering soreness in his left ankle.
Gordon injured his ankle late in the second quarter of Orlando’s season-opening win against Miami when he was hit hard at the rim by Heat center Hassan Whiteside. All of Gordon’s weight was on his left ankle causing it to buckle.
Gordon played in pain throughout that second half and didn’t shoot the ball well. Those struggles, he said, played a major role in him pulling himself out of action for the Magic’s games against Brooklyn and Cleveland last week.
Now in his fourth NBA season, Gordon said he likely would have tried to play through the pain in the past. He did that early in his rookie season and ended up breaking a bone in the outside of his foot – an injury that required surgery and knocked him out of action for eight weeks.
Experience and maturity have taught Gordon to listen to his body when he’s in pain, he said.
“I’ve still got to be patient, of course. Patience is a sign of maturity. I was really impatient when I was younger and that’s the difference between me now and that Aaron back then,’’ he said in an introspective moment. “I was really impatient with myself and I wanted to be perfect all of the time (in the past). That’s not the case now. It’s definitely go time now, but at the same time I just need to be patient and mindful.’’
UP NEXT: With the NBA shortening the preseason and starting the season a week earlier than usual, teams will have many more off days built into the schedule this season for rest and recovery.
The Magic will have two days to practice before facing the San Antonio Spurs on Friday at the Amway Center. Tipoff is just after 7 p.m.
After that game, Orlando hits the road on Saturday and will play in Charlotte (Sunday), New Orleans (Monday) and Memphis (Nov. 1).
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