The National Basketball Players Association is the latest to express displeasure at the Orlando Magic’s donation to Republican presidential candidate Ron DeSantis.
“NBA governors, players and personnel have the right to express their personal political views, including through donations and statements. However, if contributions are made on behalf of an entire team, using money earned through the labor of its employees, it is incumbent upon the team governors to consider the diverse values and perspectives of staff and players.
“The Magic’s donation does not represent player support for the recipient.”
The Magic recently donated $50,000 to the Super PAC of the Florida governor. The team is owned by the DeVos family, which includes Betsy DeVos, who was the secretary of education when Donald Trump was president and is a former finance chairwoman of the Republican National Committee. Her husband Dick is currently a vice chairman of the team.
New Orleans Pelicans forward Larry Nance Jr. recently expressed his disgust at the donation, citing DeSantis’ efforts to change Florida teaching curriculum in connection with slavery and African-American history. Public school teachers must now instruct students that slaves “developed skills which, in some instances, could be applied for their personal benefit.”
The Magic have said the donation was made prior to DeSantis becoming a candidate for president. In 2018, four members of the DeVos family, including Magic chairman Dan DeVos, reportedly donated a total of $200,000 to a DeSantis political action committee during the race for Florida governor.
Orlando is dealing with this off-court controversy while trying to create more success on the floor. The Magic have not made the playoffs since the 2019-20 NBA season and have not won a playoff series since the 2009-10 campaign, when they reached the Eastern Conference Finals.
They will be looking to build around 2023 NBA Rookie of the Year Paolo Banchero, but they have added only Joe Ingles and two rookies this offseason to a team that went 34-48 last season under head coach Jamahl Mosley and general manager Anthony Parker.
Though the Magic owners have a long record of supporting controversial conservative causes, this latest one could in theory make it more difficult to acquire players or have them feel comfortable representing the team.
DeSantis at one time was considered a contender to become president but his campaign has faltered recently. Combined with his feud with the Disney Corp., any connection to him could prove difficult for NBA players in the city of Orlando, which is what the union is addressing with its statement.