“Tonight we honor their lives, the heroes who emerged that early morning and a healing community that showed the world love always conquers hate,” the team’s announcer said during a pre-game ceremony.
The ceremony included a moment of silence for the victims, a performance of “Forty-Nine Times” by Brandon Parsons, and the raising of a No. 49 banner inscribed with the names of those who were slain.
Orlando’s Amway Center, the Magic’s home arena, is located less than two miles from the gay club where 49 people were killed and 53 were injured on June 12 by an American-born gunman who had pledged allegiance to ISIS.
The Magic announced this month that the team would dedicate its home opener to Pulse victims. Magic CEO Alex Martins predicted before the game that fans were in for an emotional evening.
``Quite frankly, I will be shocked if there’s a dry eye in the house,’’ he told OrlandoMagic.com, adding that he expected the ceremony to include around 300 survivors, family members of victims and first responders.
During warmups, Magic players took to the court wearing #OrlandoUnited shirts with rainbow heart logos.
Martins said prior to Wednesday’s game that he was proud of how the Orlando community quickly rallied after the shooting to show that love will prevail in the face of hatred.
``This was an event that shook our community and shook our country ― we’re talking about the largest mass shooting in the history of our country,’’ Martins told OrlandoMagic.com. “So it shook our community, but it also brought our community together. I think tonight will be symbolic of how our community has come together since then and how it continues to remember those who were the most impacted.”
The team and the family of billionaire team owner Richard DeVos earlier donated $500,000 to the OneOrlando Fund, a nonprofit established to assist victims’ families.
DeVos’ donation was met with backlash from those who pointed to his long history of supporting anti-LGBTQ efforts.
The Magic lost Wednesday’s game to the Miami Heat, 108-96.