Magic’s Gortat honors Polish president

Orlando Magic center Marcin Gortat had more important issues on

his mind Sunday than basketball.

The native of Poland paid tribute to his homeland’s president,

who was killed along with 95 others in a plane crash in Russia.

Gortat wrote the number of the fatal flight on his sneakers before

the Magic played the Cleveland Cavaliers and wrote President Lech

Kaczynski’s name on the tape around his wrist.

“It’s very sad,” Gortat said. “There were a lot of people

putting our country on the right path to become one of the

strongest and most powerful countries in Europe. Obviously, we pray

for them.”

Kaczynski and dozens of political, military and religious

leaders were killed in the crash. They were traveling to Russia to

honor 22,000 Polish officers slain by the Soviet secret police in

1940.

Gortat’s father, Janusz, is a retired Army officer who knew

Kaczynski before he became president in 2005. Gortat, who learned

of the crash through multiple text messages from family and friends

in Poland, said he knew “two or three” of the dignitaries who

died.

“It’s a tough loss for all of us,” he said.