BY DAN SAVAGE, OrlandoMagic.com
ORLANDO – The story of any NBA player can’t be told without mentioning the influential people and special courts that played a role in their development.
For former Orlando Magic player and team community ambassador Bo Outlaw, it was a community gym in San Antonio and his childhood friends that helped mold his game and propel him to the next level.
Now, the Magic are attempting to offer that same experience for children throughout Central Florida. After donating $25 million towards the construction and completion of community gyms throughout the region, the organization is playing a significant role in activating those courts.
On Thursday, Outlaw and the Magic hosted a free basketball clinic at the Meadow Woods Recreation Center to teach children the fundamentals of the game and hone their skills.
“It’s great because kids need an outlet,” said Outlaw, after offering nearly 100 children instruction over the course of the clinic. “It’s a great outlet to come out here and better your game and get knowledge from time to time when I or other representatives of the Magic show up. It gives them the opportunity to learn stuff and better their game.”
As part of the organization’s commitment to the Central Florida community and in celebration of the Magic’s 35th Anniversary Season presented by AdventHealth, the team will offer four additional clinics to the local community at the Orange County Orlando Magic Recreation Centers throughout the season. The four other clinics will take place on Dec. 18 at Englewood Neighborhood Center; Feb. 21 at South Econ Rec. Center; Mar. 6 at Silver Star Rec. Center; and Apr. 10 at West Orange Rec. Center.
The clinics are part of the Magic’s Youth Basketball Community Impact Series with the goal of bringing basketball to youth and to engage the community throughout the NBA season. Each Youth Basketball Community Impact event will feature a basketball clinic for local youth, Magic giveaways, appearances from Magic Community Ambassadors Nick Anderson and Outlaw, and opportunities for families to engage with the hometown team.
That special bond between the Magic and community could be felt on the floor of Amway Center for the team’s season opener. From introductions to when the final buzzer sounded, the fans were electric and played a huge role in Orlando’s blowout victory of the Houston Rockets.
“The team played great, but the community showed up and showed out,” Outlaw explained. “Players like that and appreciate that. They did their thing in the summertime by working on their game and getting better and wanting to show the people. Then, Wednesday night was a great example of putting their game to work and the people appreciating that. We came out with a good result.”
The Orange County Magic Community Gyms were completed in 2010 after the DeVos family and the Magic donated that $25 million to build the gyms around Orlando. The gyms have created a space to positively engage youth after school while directly impacting communities and building a basketball legacy that continues to thrive in Central Florida.
“That’s what (the DeVos family) instills,” said Outlaw. “They want you to be the best you can be on and off the court. They gave me the opportunity to come out here and help in the community, and I love it. It’s all about giving kids the opportunity. I was that kid once, so I get it.”
And now, with the help from the Magic, children throughout Central Florida will have access to take advantage of those opportunities.