Adonal Foyle recently endured the toughest day of his working career.
More difficult than a playoff defeat. More painful than knee surgery. More demanding than facing Shaquille O’Neal or David Robinson in their primes.
On Sept. 28, Foyle watched the Orlando Magic practice for the first time since he retired. He recalls feeling like a ghost no one could see or hear. It felt like the world just seemed to go on, oblivious to his presence, while he stood there waving and yelling, “I’m here! I’m not dead!”
But each new day is a bit easier.
Foyle, 35, is settling into his new job as the Magic’s director of player development. He helps his former teammates prepare for life away from basketball, serves as a confidante to them and assists the basketball operations department. [...]
Foyle seemed like the natural choice for the job. He spent 13 seasons as an NBA center, 2½ of them with Orlando. By the end of his professional career, he had risen to first vice president of the players’ union and had earned his teammates’ trust.
“He was like a father or like a brother to me who was teaching me what I was supposed to do on the floor, off the floor,” current Orlando center Marcin Gortat says. “He was teaching me all kinds of things about business, about the NBA, about being a professional player.”
Magic President of Basketball Operations Otis Smith calls Foyle “one of the brightest people” in basketball.
The past few weeks have reinforced Smith’s opinion.