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Ownership of the Orlando Magic fed Rich’s spirit of competition, adventure

‘Why not us? Why not now?’

When Rich DeVos asked the team this question, it became their rallying cry.

  • Five division championships
  • Seven 50-plus win seasons
  • Eastern Conference titles in 1995 and 2009
Rich DeVos, dressed in a tan suit, hands a birthday gift to Shaquille O'Neal, dressed in a Magic uniform. They are in the Magic locker room.
Rich presents a birthday gift to Shaquille O’Neal, a first round draft pick for the Magic in 1992. Rich was a presence in the lives of players, often counseling them on managing their careers for the long term.

A Magic Endeavor

No one who truly appreciated Rich’s spirit of competition and adventure should have been surprised when he and his family made a decision in 1991 to buy the NBA Orlando Magic.

After all, this was the man who friends remembered cartwheeling across his high school basketball court and the boy his sister, Jan, recalled finding creative ways to play sports around the house—from rigging a homemade basketball hoop to flooding a vacant lot for a skating rink. And despite his initial failed sailing adventure, Rich went on to become a winning competitive sailor and someone for whom family vacations meant skiing, snorkeling and exploring in exotic locales.

Dan DeVos, Rich, Rick DeVos, Helen, Dick DeVos and Doug DeVos pose for a photo in front of an Orlando Magic banner. Young Rick DeVos stands in front holding a blue, black and white basketball.1/4
Dan DeVos, Rich, Rick DeVos, Helen, Dick DeVos and Doug DeVos at the announcement of the family’s purchase of the Orlando Magic in 1991. At the time, Rich described the family as “caretakers” of the franchise – that the real owners of the team were the fans in the Orlando community.
Rich and several members of his family gather on a basketball court around the trophy awarded to the Orlando Magic for the 2009 NBA Eastern Conference Championship.2/4
The DeVos family celebrated the Orlando Magic’s 2009 NBA Eastern Conference Championship.
Rich and Helen and their son Dan DeVos and his wife, Pamella pose for a picture at an Orlando Magic basketball game.3/4
Rich and Helen attend an Orlando Magic basketball game with their son Dan DeVos and his wife, Pamella. An entrepreneur like his father, Dan went into business for himself after serving as an executive at Amway for many years.
Rich DeVos wearing a ballcap and speaking in front of tape recorders.4/4
Rich gives a locker-room interview following the Magic’s 2009 NBA Eastern Conference Championship.

A regular in the locker room

Owning an NBA team for Rich went far beyond fulfilling his need to compete and win. The Orlando Magic was also an opportunity to tap his talents to inspire and mentor young athletes and serve his adopted community of Central Florida as he did his hometown of Grand Rapids.

The Magic players quickly discovered they had a unique owner in Rich. The sports media was giving the Magic little chance to win its first championship playoff when Rich entered the locker room and advised the team to tune out the negatives.

He asked them, “Why not us? Why not now?” The phrase became their battle cry. The Magic did not win the NBA Finals, but Rich’s inspiration and insistence on quality performance surely helped the franchise, which has won five division championships, had seven 50-plus win seasons and captured the Eastern Conference title in 1995 and 2009.

Rich also saw the wisdom of mentoring the players, who, despite being highly paid elite athletes, were young men—some barely beyond their teens. He and his family also hosted players in their home to show how much he cared for them as individuals off the court.

“I speak to the players often and attend all the games I can,” Rich once said. “I encourage them to be their best every day in every game.”

Rich DeVos holding a Magic jersey standing next to Pat Williams and Dick DeVos.
Rich, Pat Williams and Dick DeVos in 1991 at the announcement that the DeVos family had purchased the team.
Rich stands courtside at an Orlando Magic basketball game. Other fans are seen in the background.
Rich courtside at an Orlando Magic game. A self-professed “cheerleader,” (and, indeed, a former high school cheerleader) Rich attended as many Magic games as possible to support the team and players.

The community’s team

As owners of the Magic, the DeVos family takes seriously its role as civic leaders in Orlando and remains dedicated to the principle that the team really belongs to the community.

The family continues their stewardship because of what the team means to Orlando and in keeping with the Magic mission statement, which reads: “We enhance the quality of life in our communities by pioneering excellence in the management of sports and wellness through a commitment to family values.”

Inspired by Rich’s example, the Magic seeks to unite players, fans and the community in “something bigger than ourselves.”

Few things in the world are more powerful than a positive push. A smile. A world of optimism and hope. A ‘you can do it’ when things are tough.”
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Orlando Magic celebrate Rich DeVos

In 2016, the Magic inducted DeVos into their hall of fame.

A Magic gift

The family enhanced the quality of life in Orlando through the donation of millions of dollars to charities and education.

The Orlando Magic’s parent organization, RDV Sports, was named Outstanding Philanthropic Organization of the Year by the National Society of Fundraising Executives in 2008.

And the Richard and Helen DeVos Community Enrichment Award encouraged Magic players to use their NBA celebrity status to enrich lives in the community.

In the News: Magic Dedicate Basketball Court to the Late Rich and Helen Devos

The parquet floor at the Amway Center will permanently feature a “Rich and Helen DeVos Court’’ memorial insignia.Read Story