How the Orlando Magic stayed together during the coronavirus pandemic

The Orlando Magic had to work to stay together as they waited out the pandemic. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
The Orlando Magic had to work to stay together as they waited out the pandemic. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images) /

The Orlando Magic are back together again as they prepare to resume their season. Staying together during the pandemic proved difficult.

For the eight months of an NBA season, a team becomes something like a family.

Almost by necessity, it has to. Teams spend more time together through practices, games and road trips than with almost anyone else. There is still the precious family time, but the NBA life is a road-weary one. It is impossible not to feel bonded to your teammates.

The road can be an unforgiving place. Players may not become quite best friends all the time, but they are still close.

The season has its usual rhythms. When the season ends, everyone goes their separate ways, unsure if the group will come together again. The team remains in a time capsule with an expiration date.

So this hiatus disrupted that rhythm. The team went their separate ways all with the chance they would be back together again. Almost the expectation they would be. For four months, the Magic have been a team without games.

The prospect of the season returning only brought out some of the restlessness of being back in the fraternity again.

Now that the team has arrived at Disney to resume its season, the Orlando Magic will have to regain their chemistry and bonds quickly.

The team has done its best to stay connected in the meantime. Even as players looked to spend time with their families and socially distance themselves.

The Magic tried to stay connected to each other and together as a team. But it was obviously not the same. Everyone took their time to themselves before looking to get back together.

"“We do have a group chat,” Evan Fournier said via a teleconference with media last week. “It has been really active lately. To be honest, at first, it was like OK guys let’s take those couple of weeks off and see you next month. At first, not a whole lot of news. Just now and then, I hope you guys are doing OK. We see each other every day. It’s not like we miss each other or anything.”"

The group chat was the main way players stayed connected as a group. Some players have their own close relationships and friendships with other players. But the group stayed in contact, checking in with each other through the group chats and texts.

Here, several players were very much like the regular populace, staying in contact through video games of all things.

Many players are gamers, playing games like Call of Duty, and FIFA 20 among others, and stayed in touch through online games. It actually helped them feed their competitive juices as much as their social juices going.

Terrence Ross said he would play with Nikola Vucevic, Evan Fournier, Wesley Iwundu, Mohamed Bamba, James Ennis and Gary Clark. That is how they stayed in some contact during the hiatus.

There were also formal conversations with players.

The Magic themselves had several teleconferences to keep everyone connected too.

Some were team-organized meetings and updates on where the league and the team stood. They have had several meetings discussing social justice movements, including a conversation with civil rights leader Desmond Meade, who helped spearhead the push to restore voting rights to released felons in Florida.

These conversations and these interactions have been like family reunions. Social distancing — both away and in the gym — has kept players from being near their family.

"“Whether we like it or not, my teammates are like an extended family because we spend so much time with them,” Markelle Fultz said during a teleconference last week. “It has been good to get on a call and see how everybody is doing and see everybody’s face and see the smile everyone has when we get back on the call.It has been exciting to know we will get the chance to be together again, just have memories together and work together for the goal we had at the beginning of the season. We’ve just been texting, FaceTiming each other. Everyone has a pretty good relationship. Reaching out to each other, checking on each other and making sure everybody is good.”"

Technology has certainly helped everyone stay together in some way. Nobody has been completely alone.

Returning to the AdventHealth Practice Facility, even with the league’s social distancing guidelines, was good to see everyone in person again. The team seems eager to return to the court and finish the season. They seem eager to get back together.

The Magic have already checked into their hotel and gone through the initial intake of testing. They will be under quarantine and isolation for the next 36-48 hours while those test results are processed.

There will be only a few moments more alone before they come together again. Then the work of getting back in basketball shape begins again.

They will be spending a lot of time together now as they get through the remainder of the season.

Orlando Magic won't be able to pick up where they left off. dark. Next

The family is back together.