ORLANDO, FL - Bob Vander Weide made a three-year commitment to the Orlando Magic in 1991, joining father-in-law Rich DeVos' team as Vice President. Now, after 20 seasons with the organization, he's finally stepping away.
Vander Weide joined team president Alex Martins, new chairman Dan DeVos, and President of Basketball Operations Otis Smith at Amway Center on Wednesday morning for a news conference to announce his retirement. Martins succeeds Vander Weide as CEO, while DeVos is new to the organization.
"I could feel [the job] starting to wear on me," Vander Weide said in explaining his departure, which he began planning "within the last nine months to a year." He would have left the team sooner, he says, but he wanted to fulfill his obligations to the NBA's Planning and Labor Committees during the NBA lockout in order to ensure the league wouldn't have to cancel its forthcoming season.
Though new to the Magic, DeVos understands sports management, as he serves as the co-owner, president, and CEO of the Grand Rapids Griffins, who play in the American Hockey League as the top affiliate for the Detroit Red Wings. In addition--and not to be too obvious--he's part of the DeVos family, which has owned the Magic since 1991. "Change is difficult for everybody involved," he said. "But the good news in this change is that it should be--and will be--a pretty seamless operation. We have anticipated change within our family for a long time."
During his tenure with the Magic, Vander Weide helped establish the Orlando Magic Youth Foundation, which has made over $16 million in contributions to Orlando charities since its inception. He and Martins helped secure approval for, and funding of, Amway Center, the league's newest venue.
Vander Weide won't disappear from the Magic completely, however; he will stay with the team as a consultant. Smith values Vander Weide's advice on basketball and in business, he says, and will continue his relationship with him.
Though the names at the top of the organization's depth chart have shuffled a bit, the Magic's goal remains the same: bring Orlando a championship trophy. The four men at the table for Wednesday's press conference made that point clear throughout the conference. Whether they'll be able to achieve that goal remains to be seen, given the uncertainty surrounding the future free-agent status of Dwight Howard, the team's cornerstone.
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