ORLANDO – The Orlando Magic take pride in being champions of the community.
They also admire other organizations who do the same.
When the Magic heard about the virtuous actions of the Cocoa Police Department, they wanted to show their appreciation.
Last month, three Cocoa police officers helped brighten up the day for three children at Joe Lee Smith Park. While out searching for repeat offenders, the officers spotted the kids playing basketball and proceeded to make a positive impact. They coordinated a game of three-on-three and everyone left the park that night with smiles on their faces and a sense of community devotedness.
The Magic welcomed the officers and children at Friday’s game against the Toronto Raptors. They each met and took photos with Magic players Nikola Vucevic and Jodie Meeks prior to tipoff and then watched the game from fantastic Amway Center seats.
“They (the children) were having a blast and we decided to get out there and see if they would play with us and it turned out to be a great time,” Detective Ben Erskine recalls. “That type of police work is priceless and when you see the look on the kids' faces, it’s awesome.”
Though a couple of weeks have passed, this good-natured act is still a hot topic among the Cocoa Police Dept., the children and their families.
“When I pulled up to the park to pick them up, it just put a big smile on my face,” said Conchita Jones, a mother of one of the kids. “It’s like a dream come true. Never in a million years did we think we’d see ourselves here (at Magic game).
“I was just telling them (family) that it was fun (playing with officers) and we won,” Jaquaze Green said.
“It’s fun seeing a whole bunch of NBA players that I'd be playing on my video game,” he added after meeting Vucevic and Meeks courtside.
As patrol officer George Menendez points out, it’s these kinds of deeds that help build good community habits.
“Our department has a very good relationship with the community, it’s always been there and now it’s maybe getting even stronger,” he said.
The best part of it all, we may see a Part II at Joe Lee Smith Park in the near future.
“I’ve been asking for a rematch,” said Menendez, who was wearing a bodycam to capture the game on video. “These guys (the kids) are serious basketball players. You can even tell for their age they are really advanced.”