Dwight Howard has looked more like Lex Luthor than Superman as late. With the back and forth that occurred between Howard and the Magic last season, culminating in Howard agreeing to sign an extension and remain with the team for another year, seemed to be a fair resolution for the time being.
But, it seems that it was actually the worst possible decisions for both sides. The Magic are now all but forced to trade Howard, even after firing head coach Stan Van Gundy and retooling the front office.
And Howard’s reputation only gets worse.
For a player who was known as a jokester in his first eight seasons, Howard’s reputation seems to be on a downward trend rivaled only by “The Decision.” And we all know what it took to get LeBron James past that. The difference between the two is that James was simply given bad advice to make leaving Cleveland such a public event. But he still donated the proceeds from that event to charity.
Howard’s problem, in contrast, could aptly be named The Indecision.
The problem with Howard is that he originally refused to flat out say he wanted to leave Orlando, a fact which the majority of the NBA has known for at least a full season. Had he just come out last year and been upfront, saying he was going to test the free agent waters, he’d likely be in a much better situation than he is now. Perhaps the James saga scared him off from being so straight forward, but he’s worse off for it.
Instead, Howard chose to give hope to the city of Orlando, when he likely had very little intention to remain there in the long run. While the situation with Van Gundy, including his infamous interview with reporters where he admitted Howard had asked for his firing (a claim that Howard denies but is more likely than not the truth), likely didn’t help Howard’s chances of remaining with the Magic, the root of the problem is that Howard doesn’t believe he can win in Orlando.
I don’t blame Howard for wanting to leave and the Magic’s front office certainly hasn’t helped by signing a cascade of terrible contracts, such as Hedo Turkoglu, Quentin Richardson, Chris Duhon, and Glen Davis. But the way he has gone about it will likely impact him in fans eyes for a long time. As good as Howard is as a player, he isn’t of the same caliber as LeBron James, whose abilities seem to transcend the sport.
Also, the most recent rumors of Howard claiming the Magic blackmailed him into signing the one-year extension, along with his “demands” that he will only accept a trade to one team, are only working to further tarnish his reputation.
The most recent rumors from around the NBA say that the Brooklyn Nets may indeed be able to put together a package for Howard, which would include Brook Lopez, Kris Humphries, Marshon Brooks, and three first round draft picks. But that may not even be the best group Orlando could get in return for the All-Star center. And don’t be at all surprised if the Magic actively shy away from a trade with the Nets because of Howard’s antics.
What’s transpired with Howard is bad for both the city of Orlando and the NBA as a whole. If superstars want to leave their team, they have that right; no one should be forced to work in a situation they don’t enjoy, no matter what the line of work is. But doing so in a way that does harm to a team that the player supposedly believes in and respects isn’t the right way to go about it.
The backlash Howard is going to face from this saga could severely tarnish his legacy. Perhaps the only way to overcome it will be to dominate the league with his own Big 3 in Brooklyn. But, Howard may never even get that chance.