The Orlando Magic continued a team tradition on Sunday, donating more than 800 tickets for their home game against the Phoenix Suns to uniformed members of the U.S. military "to honor their dedication and bravery." The kickoff of the ninth season of Orlando's "Seats for Soldiers" promotion featured a slew of military-inspired activities at the Amway Center, as well as several events and presentations designed to create a bit of fun for the local military personnel, all of which constitutes a cool, decent way to show a bit of appreciation for those who serve.
One of the highlights of the game-long salute was intended to come when "Stuff, the Magic's mascot" — whom you might remember from one of the many sports-related "Gangnam Style" covers to cross our desks this summer — "led several members of the U.S. military onto the court between the first and second quarters to try to use a portable trampoline to dunk basketballs," according to Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel's Orlando Magic BasketBlog. The math seemed sound — dunks are fun, trampolines are fun, dunking off trampolines is fun and amateurs performing tasks typically reserved for professional stunt people is fun (provided those tasks are not unspeakably dangerous or performed without legitimate supervision, of course).
Unfortunately, the Magic appear to have left a slight remainder in their calculations, as evidenced by one leaping soldier coming up just a bit short on his attempt:
I do not at all, even one little bit, blame the man in uniform for grabbing hold of the nylon beneath the rim after missing on the dunk attempt; I mean, if I'm in that situation, I'm reaching for anything that might slow my fall, too. It's just kind of a bummer that it tore away, damaging the basket and necessitating a between-quarters repair that took between 12 and 13 minutes to repair, depending on which reporter's stopwatch you trust.
This was probably not what the Magic's marketing and game operations crews had in mind when they dreamed up this bit of entertainment, and certainly not what the soldier envisioned when he laced up his combat boots — which, in hindsight, he might have been better off momentarily chucking for a pair of high-tops — and tried to be like Mike.
On the plus side, as Robbins noted, "that delay actually might have helped the Magic settle their interior defense." After giving up 20 points in the paint, six offensive rebounds, eight second-chance points in the game's opening 12 minutes, Orlando tightened up inside, allowing just 18 points in the paint, 10 second-chance points and 11 offensive rebounds over the final three quarters en route to a 115-94 win that ran the Dwight Howard-less Magic to 2-0 on the young season. So while everybody in attendance at the Amway Center was thankful for the assembled military members' service, Magic coach Jacque Vaughn might've been a little more thankful than some.
Video via nbainfos.
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