ORLANDO – For Luisa Gordon and her three sons, Ethan, Evan and Elijah, Tuesday’s open practice was a rare, and unforgettable, experience.
While sitting front row as new head coach Steve Clifford guided his players through an otherwise routine shooting drill, the Gordons were amazed to be so close to all the action.
“It was awesome,” an elated Ethan said as the event was wrapping up.
What made the drill, and rest of the night, even more spectacular for Ethan and his brothers was that their favorite player, who just so happens to share the same last name, Aaron Gordon, was just a few feet away as he worked on his outside jumper and showed off his off-the-charts athleticism.
“It was great to see him that close,” Luisa said.
Rosalie DeMoneco and her son, Carmine, also had a blast, particularly when the 5-year-old’s favorite players took the court.
“Seeing D.J. Augustin and Mo Bamba,” an ecstatic Carmine said about what he will remember most from the night.
It brings much joy to Clifford, who was an assistant coach with the Magic when the team made the Finals in 2009, seeing all the smiles on the children’s faces.
“The organization here is always putting so much into the community,” he said. “I think the guys take a lot of pride in it and I think they enjoy it. I think they enjoy the interaction with the kids and I think the kids have fun doing stuff like this also.”
Terrence Ross appreciates being able to inspire children, largely because he remembers being in their shoes. The now 27-year-old recalls a time when he was the astonished one sitting in the stands marveling at his heroes and role models.
“I actually went to an event like this back in Portland when I was a little kid and I remember seeing Brandon Roy and LaMarcus Aldridge and those guys going out there having fun with us,” the sharpshooting guard said. “It was a surreal moment.”
The Magic’s first home preseason game will take place Friday, Oct. 5 against Flamengo, a Brazilian pro team. Tip-off is set for 7 p.m.