Dwight Howard & the Orlando Magic Played Themselves

Akiem Balium- Host of 10 Minutes on the Clock on The Real Sports Talk Network, and Blogger for TRST’s the Sports Realist.

This Superman movie has looked more like an episode of General Hospital. I’m surprised the local TV stations in Central Florida haven’t started hiring local Floridian actors to play Dwight Howard, Otis Smith, Stan Van Gundy, and everyone else involved.

Ever since I began following sports, this has been one of the craziest stories I have ever followed. A star player who clearly wants out & a team doing everything they can to help that player who clearly wants out.

And we thought “Favre Watch” had no end in sight!

Let’s take into consideration everything that happened this year. We didn’t hear as many Stan Van Gundy impersonations from Mr. Howard this year. That’s because the focus was on the growing rift that there was between the two. There was plentyof speculation leading to the conclusion that Dwight Howard wanted Van Gundy canned as head coach.

All of this centered on the idea that Orlando Magic ownership were willing to go all in,  to keep their star center in the blue & black of the Magic.  And his rift with the coach was one of the main sticking points in his campaign to exit-stage-left from O-Town.

And if it meant forcing Stan out of town, the Magic would say “So Be It!” After all, Stan wasn’t the Grand Marshall of the last All-Star Game in Orlando? Stan isn’t thereason many cite for bringing the Orlando Magic to their first vestiges of relevancy since they had Shaquille O’Neal. Stan isn’t whom many cite as the reason whythe Magic were able to build a new arena and, with it, remain in Orlando & not in Kansas City or Seattle as was previously rumoured.

So, if it meant firing him, they’d fire him. Dwight Howard was the real owner of the team.

But, Dwight also played himself in the process. There was an opt-out clause in his contract that would’ve allowed him to become a free agent this year. So, he’d be in thesame situation as LeBron James was in 2010 when he wowed us with “The Decision”.

All he had to was put the checkmark by “opt-out” and none of this would’ve happened. It’s a simple move. I just drew a checkmark on a piece of paper halfway through thiscolumn & put it by where it says “opt-out”.

But, Howard must be really into this Superman thing because no so-called hero would pave his own way out of town, would he? Much more convenient to make it look like the team wanted to get rid of you when apparently, you had tired of riding Space Mountain at Walt Disney World.

The rub onthis is that Howard was contemplating a lawsuit against the Orlando Magic because he was coerced by their front office to sign an opt-in or be traded tothe Los Angeles Lakers—a team that he wants nothing to do with. Or, he was claiming that the Magic lied to him about when he could sign the opt-out because they told him to wait. The Players’ Union was rumoured to consider the Howard case before they realized there is no “Howard case”. Head-case sounds more like the appropriate word.

He’s said explicitly on numerous occasions that he wants to go to the Brooklyn Nets. He’s said it so many times that you think one of his supposed six mistresses (that’s supposedly carrying 5 of his kids) works for the team. Dare I say….six alleged Lois Lanes?

Or, it couldbe just that Mikhail Prokhorov and Jay-Z are about to shell a borough-load of money at the guy.

But, if he had just not signed the opt-in on his contract that gave him one more year in Orlando, he’d be a free agent today & would probably sign with the Brooklyn Nets the minute the free agent period began.

But it’s apossibility that even this circus is too big for the Tri-State area. Instead of  pursuing Lil’ Clark Kent (Shaq was the original Man of Steel), Brooklyn acquired Joe Johnson instead. And that deal was enough to convince Deron Williams to not take his talents “deep in the heart of Texas”. He’s staying a Net…

…And is getting paid a borough-load full of money to do so.

There’s still speculation about the possibility the Nets may still pursue Dwight Howard, but there’s also increasing speculation that the Magic may try and workout a deal with the Lakers, Rockets, Warriors, or Mavericks for what would amount to a 1-year rental before Howard and his agents begin their wooing of Brooklyn.

By being caught up in what the Magic were doing and not controlling his own future, Dwight Howard certainly messed himself up. He demanded out, but didn’t do what LeBron did. LeBron James decided not to wait for the Cleveland Cavaliers and pursue his own future. He went to Miami. We may not like the way he did it, but he vindicated himself by winning a championship this year.

But, the Orlando Magic also played themselves as well in this whole mess, it turns out.Howard was demanding everything from them and it wasn’t enough. Dwight Howard always wanted out to play in either Brooklyn or Los Angeles because he seems more concerned with expanding his international brand than he is with winning a championship.

Playing in either the #1 or #2 media markets in the United States will certainly help that cause more so than Central Florida would.

The Magic basically did everything to keep him in Orlando except rename the arena the “Dwight Howard Dunkatorium”. Or have the opening music played at Magic games be the theme from Superman.

Stan VanGundy & Otis Smith were both fir…err…I mean “released” (we’re 99.999%positive) at the request of Dwight Howard. It’s very possible that perhaps Smith was trying to work out a deal at the trade deadline with the Lakers foreither Pau Gasol and/or Andrew Bynum and that’s why Howard didn’t see eye-to-eye with the GM.

The Magic even at one point said that they’ll allow him to stay and decide the fates ofboth the coach and GM. Who has ever heard of a team giving their marquee player that much influence and power?

But, even with all of that, Dwight might as well have tweeted that his iPod was “now playing” Jay-Z’s greatest hits. Even with the realities of free agency looking the Magic dead in the face, they still decided to make #12 one of their 99 problems.

It was one of the worst kept secrets in the NBA that he was unsatisfied with playing insmall-city O-Town, so why not just trade him and get rid of the drama, especially considering the beef he had with Stan Van Gundy.

A side note of all of this is that it’s the 2nd time Stan Van Gundy has been forced from a team as coach. Both of his coaching stops in the state of Florida have ended the same way—with players and a team shoving him on the north boundside of the interstate heading out of Miami or Orlando.

Dwight Howard and Stan Van Gundy contradicting rumors of Howard wanting Van Gundy fired provided one of the most uncomfortable moments for members of the media and fans.

Dwight Howard’s first priority was finding the best landing spot for Dwight Howard. Nothing’s wrong with that—it’s the whole point of free agency. But, Superman continued to cut holes in his cape & day by day, he looked more like Lex Luthor than thenew Man of Steel—he looks the same way at the free throw line as well (as do most big men). Sign the opt-out and head for free agency even if you get traded to the Lakers or anyone else.

But, let’salso blame the Magic for not seeing the tea leaves. Dwight Howard may have single-handedly taken apart the Magic franchise piece by piece with the firi…er…I mean “release”of the coach, GM, and other executives that were tired of this soap opera. Icould care less if you are Wilt Chamberlain, Bill Russell, Magic Johnson,Michael Jordan, Larry Bird, or Kobe Bryant. No player is worth a team bending over backwards, forwards, sideways, and crossways to keep him to the point that they’d sell a coach and GM up the river just to keep him.

So, only a few questions remain…when will Dwight Howard finally be traded so the Magic(and their fans) move on from this mess. And the second is…

When willcasting begin when WFTV-TV (ABC 9) or WESH-TV (NBC 2) in Orlando start their re-creation of this story for their local soap opera? This should get ratings.

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Posted on July 7, 2012, in NBA. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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