Dee holds 3rd annual basketball tournament

Marlins second baseman glad to put spotlight on kids in hometown competition

Dee holds 3rd annual basketball tournament

MIAMI -- On the baseball field, Marlins second baseman Dee Gordon is used to being the center of attention. The 28-year-old is a two-time All-Star, a former National League batting champion, a Silver Slugger and Gold Glove Award winner.

One of the fastest players in the game, Gordon is accustomed to being on the go. But Saturday, he was perfectly fine with being a spectator and putting the spotlight on his community. The third annual Dee Gordon Hometown Basketball Tournament was again a big hit in Avon Park, Fla.

"It's bigger than me," Gordon said. "It's about the community. It's about the kids. They get to have fun."

The six-team, double-elimination tournament tipped off around 11 a.m. ET, and the last game concluded about 5:30 p.m. Funds raised benefitted the Boys & Girls Club of Highlands County. 

All eyes in the area were on the one court. About 1,500 people watched over the course of the day.

"There's one outdoor court," Gordon said. "It's pretty much, you're on center stage. You've got to show what you've got because everybody's watching."

Dee Gordon poses with his father, left, and local Boys & Girls Club director Woodraun Wright. (Allen Moody/News Sun)

"It's special anytime someone as successful as Dee can come home to give back to the community that helped him," said Woodraun Wright, Executive Director of the Boys & Girls Club of Highlands County. "We appreciate Dee for all he does for our children."

For the most part, Gordon likes to keep the event low-key, and he fully intends to keep it going for the foreseeable future. His father, Tom "Flash" Gordon, the former big league reliever, and his brother Nick, a top prospect with the Twins, both assisted.

Otherwise, the attention was on the players on the court.

"I'm not trying to accomplish anything," Gordon said. "Nothing personal. I just want to be able to give back to my community. Show people I'm not forgetting about them. Just spend time with them. To be down there with them, and spend time.

"I don't need help from anybody. I'm not trying to be like a charity, where people donate. Just basically, go spend time and effort with the people I grew up with."

A standout basketball player at Avon Park High School, Gordon had college opportunities. Actually, basketball was his passion, and he didn't start playing baseball until later in high school. It didn't take long for his talents on the diamond to develop, and his baseball career flourished.

Gordon doesn't participate at his annual basketball event, although he couldn't resist the urge to take a few shots between games.

"I took a few dunk shots with my uncle," he said. "He's the one who taught me how to play. I took a few jumpers with him."

But when the games were underway, Gordon went back to watching.

"I sat in a folding chair with my grandmothers," he said. "I'd run around, and get them all the food that they wanted."

Joe Frisaro has covered the Marlins for since 2002. He writes a blog, called The Fish Pond. Follow him on Twitter @JoeFrisaro and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.