ORLANDO -- As the backup to the best center in the NBA, unheralded Marcin Gortat doesn't cause much of a stir when he enters and leaves a game.
He causes quite a commotion, though, every night when he arrives and departs the arena. He has arguably the loudest, fastest car in a league that is filled with players who drive some of the fastest, sleekest, most elegant rides in America.
"People in this country don't know me yet for my game, but people around this town know my car,'' Gortat said as he was showing off his ride to FanHouse. "I don't think there are any cars out on the street that could beat me. I have an engine like something in NASCAR. This car is fast. It's perfect.''
Before he starts it, Gortat's car doesn't look any different than any other car in parking lot filled with rich people. It's a new BMW M5, shiny and black and looking like a million dollars.
"It could go over 200 mph, maybe 225 mph. I don't want to drive that fast, but what matters is how quick it goes from 0-60."
- Marcin Gortat "It could go over 200 mph, maybe 225 mph,'' he said. "I don't want to drive that fast, but what matters is how quick it goes from 0-60. I can pull up next to a Ferrari or Lamborghini at a light, look over, and they might start laughing. But when it turns green, I'm gone, waiting at the next light when they get there, and I'm the one laughing then.''
Gortat admittedly has been stopped and ticketed a few times by law enforcement on the streets of Central Florida, yet he still has a valid driver's license. He usually gets only warnings now. His status as a Magic player in a one-sport town doesn't hurt. And neither does his disarming, personable nature. He is a likeable guy, well known around town.
"I shake my head every time I see him pulling away,'' said one Seminole County (Fla) police officer who did not want his name being used. "We all know who he is. But it's hard not to like him.''
Gortat is in the second year of his original NBA contract, paying him $711,000 this season. He often marvels at the fleet of cars owned by star center Dwight Howard – who is in the midst of an $80 million contract -- and the two joke about who has the fastest car.
Every time he pulls away from the Magic's practice facility or the arena, Gortat revs up the engine, reveling in the attention it brings him. He is happy to offer you a test ride as a passenger, or a chance to sit in the driver's seat and step on the accelerator just to feel the power.
"Dwight has a $300,000 car with 600 horsepower. I have a $150,000 car with 800 horsepower,'' he said. "Mine is like an airplane. It's something I've always wanted. I probably have the fastest car in Florida, maybe in the NBA.''
Gortat is the only Polish-born player in the NBA, and just the third player from Poland to reach the league. Since coming to the Magic in 2007 as a second-round pick, he has improved considerably this season. He is a free agent this summer, and there is likely a center-starved team in the league that might make him a starter.
He has averaged just 11.4 minutes, 3.2 points, 3.4 minutes through the playoffs, but he played only a disappointing four minutes in Game 3 against the Lakers Tuesday night.
"Rashard Lewis has his horses. Dwight has his fleet. Adonal Foyle is buying an island with his money,'' Gortat said. "I have my dream car. And it's fast.''