There were two palpable emotions inside the AdventHealth Training Center after the Orlando Magic’s practice on Friday: excitement and empathy.
The enthusiasm to return to the facility was evident after the Magic canceled Wednesday and Thursday’s practices because of Hurricane Ian.
It was also clear how the hurricane’s impact on the Orlando and Central Florida communities was at the forefront of players’ and coaches’ minds.
“We’re fortunate enough to be here, yes, and we got practice underway but our thoughts and prayers are going out to the people who’ve been impacted and affected by Hurricane Ian,” coach Jamahl Mosley said. “I really want to make sure they understand that our hearts, thoughts and prayers are with them. The community needs to understand we’re with them and continuing to think about them.”
The thoughts have been backed up with action.
The DeVos Family Foundation announced Friday afternoon it’s donating $1 million to assist with Hurricane Ian relief efforts in Central Florida and across the state.
The DeVos Family Foundation (DVFF) and the Magic are working with local partners and officials to make sure help is available to those most impacted in Central Florida and throughout the region.
DVFF is donating $500,000 to the Hurricane Recovery Fund set up by the Heart of Florida United Way and the Central Florida Foundation plus $250,000 to the statewide Florida Disaster Fund, and $250,000 will be reserved for future rebuilding efforts.
“It’s truly incredible,” Mosley said. “We talk about the perspective of things and the sport we’re in, but it’s more important how much we give back, take care of people and the lives that have been impacted by the hurricane.”
Even with Hurricane Ian on their minds, Friday was also about getting back to work in their first practice since opening training camp with two sessions Tuesday.
The rust from not being on the practice courts was noticeable, according to multiple players.
“It was kind of tough,” big man Wendell Carter Jr. said. “You could kind of tell when we started hooping that people were getting winded a little bit, but we picked it up. We got to push through that stuff.”
The message from Mosley to the team was clear: don’t put pressure on yourself trying to make up for the lost time.
“There are other teams practicing, getting drills and that’s going to be understood,” Mosley said. “One thing about this team and just like this community, we’re going to be resilient, take what’s handed to us and make the most out of it. That’s what these guys showed.”
The Magic are scheduled to practice on Saturday and Sunday in Orlando ahead of Monday’s preseason opener against the Grizzlies in Memphis.
Adding an extra practice over the weekend has been contemplated but isn’t viewed as necessary.
“We want to make sure the guys are recovering mentally as well as physically,” Mosley said. “After we get the one in [Saturday], we’ll play a little bit of that by ear because we’ll be traveling Sunday.
“We want to make sure the families are safe; everybody gets their homes taken care of. That’s the first priority. There’s a lot of film work that’ll be done, there’s a lot of one-on-one sessions and small-group sessions that we’ll do, and then we’ll play that second practice by ear.”
The sense of urgency to get up to speed is present, but so is the understanding that losing practice days wasn’t in their control and it’s about making the most of what they have.
“It’s definitely some pressure on everyone — not just the players, coaches too — some urgency to get back out here to make it through one day, but that’s not realistic,” guard Cole Anthony said. “We got to take our time. It’s still preseason. When you try to catch up on lost time, people get hurt. We just want to keep everyone healthy.”
This article first appeared on OrlandoSentinel.com. Email Khobi Price at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter at @khobi_price.