The NBAPA Is Not Happy the Magic Donated $50k to Ron DeSantis

The Florida governor has supported controversial education standards that appear to have upset the team's players

Ron DeSantis speaks to the media before a 2019 NBA playoff game.
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has reason to root for the Orlando Magic.
Getty Images

One of the NBA’s worst teams made their chances of attracting any big fish in free agency even slimmer by making a $50,000 campaign donation to Florida Governor Ron DeSantis’s presidential campaign in May that the National Basketball Players Association has labeled “alarming.”

“A political contribution from the Orlando Magic is alarming given recent comments and policies of its beneficiary,” said the NBAPA in a statement. “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 donation to the governor’s super PAC was unearthed in recent federal filings and was made a few days before DeSantis launched his presidential candidacy, according to the team. “It was given as a Florida business in support of a Florida governor for the continued prosperity of Central Florida,” said Magic chief communications officer Joel Glass.

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The NBAPA could certainly take issue with many of the comments DeSantis has made and policies he has put in place, but it’s believed what the group is referring to in its statement was the 2024 presidential candidate’s suggestion that Black people benefitted from being enslaved.

DeSantis made his remarks during a campaign stop in Utah after Vice President Kamala Harris criticized new Black history standards adopted by the Florida Board of Education that include instruction on “how slaves developed skills which, in some instances, could be applied for their personal benefit.”

“They’re probably going to show some of the folks that eventually parlayed, you know, being a blacksmith into, into doing things later in life,” DeSantis said. “The reality is, all of that is rooted in whatever is factual. They listed everything out. And if you have any questions about it, just ask the Department of Education. These were scholars who put that together. It was not anything that was done politically.”

The donation from the team, which is owned by the DeVos family (Betsy DeVos was the secretary of education under former President Donald Trump), certainly was done politically. In a statement, the NBA defended the rights of Orlando’s owners to use their money as they see fit.

“Team governors make their own decisions on the political contributions they make and we respect the right of members of the NBA family to express their political views,” the NBA said in a statement.

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