"The fans were so great to Daniel, and me," said Larry Orton after he returned to Lexington Tuesday from watching his son play summer league games with the Orlando Magic. "They meant everything to him and me. They were always so nice and were just great to us from day one.
"You can't beat Kentucky fans. You just don't find anybody like Kentucky fans. You can talk about Kansas, North Carolina and Duke fans all you want, but they are not Kentucky fans. It's better than Oklahoma football, too. I have never seen anything like it."
Former UK coach Billy Gillispie told the Ortons that when he came to Oklahoma City to recruit Daniel.
"Gillispie said he knew I thought Oklahoma football fans were crazy, but he said to multiply that by 10 for Kentucky basketball fans — and he was right. It's crazy," Larry Orton said. "I've never seen fans like this. This will sit out in the cold for hours to get an autograph. But they will just wait and wait because they love the Cats so much.
"The fans cared about Daniel when he lost his mother. They worried about him when he got hurt (from an elbow to the face) in a game. They were always there for him and the fans will never know how much I appreciated that or how much he needed that."
He says his son, the 29th pick in the first round of the recent NBA draft, has work to do to get ready for his NBA career.
"He's out of shape and still needs to rehab that knee, but he just needs work more than anything," Larry Orton said. "The Magic know all that and believe in him."
His son was ejected from his first summer league game when he got two technical fouls.
"Both players got ejected. But the NBA guys like that stuff in a big man. They don't want you to back down. You can't be weak in there and play," Larry Orton, who plans to move to Orlando, said.
He says it is not complicated when it comes to what his son has to do in the weeks and months ahead.
"All he has to do is listen and live in the gym," Larry Orton said. "I told him that before I left. There's nothing hard about that. He just has to do it, and I think he will."