Senior Writer: Andy Flint:
For the Orlando Magic, and it’s fans, the NBA lock-out comes at a time when screwing around isn’t really an option. The fact remains that they haven’t gotten much of a commitment out of Dwight Howard. This is the absolute, worst-case scenario for Magic fans. There was a moment during game 6, versus the Atlanta Hawks, where Magic fans had this empty feeling in their guts. The feeling was that Dwight Howard was surely on his way out.
He’s obviously going to receive offers by the truck-load. Dwight Howard will be the most coveted free agent since Lebron James, and much like many scenes in the original Revenge of the Nerds movies, we all know that LeBron James (Betty Childs), breaks the heart of the Cleveland Cavaliers (The Nerds/Lambda’s) for the allure of the Miami Heat (Alpha Beta’s). Will Dwight Howard do similar damage to the Orlando Magic? Will The Magic watch, yet another, iconic “big man” walk away, prematurely slamming the door on an era that never quite got off of the ground-floor?
Dwight Howard has publicly stated that Orlando is where he wants to be. Although, he’s about as convincing as Professional Wrestling. “Superman” seems to be very careful with what he says in front of a camera, when referring to whether or not he’ll remain the anchor of a Magic team, that is tailor-made to accommodate his game. I remain very skeptical, and unconvinced by D-12′s best attempts at soothing the city that reveres him as their most prized, and celebrated icon.
The city of Orlando truly believes that Dwight Howard is a super hero. Their own “Superman”, if you will. These fans go crazy for this guy, and he almost seems as if he’s setting the them up for a huge fall. The way Howard plays things in the media, makes it seem as if he’ll demand things of the Magic front office, that just aren’t realistic, and then he’ll bail when they can’t meet his standards, and he’ll look like the victim. I believe Howard has done a great job of laying the ground-work for making his imminent departure anyone’s fault but his own.
The worst part of this whole debacle, is that the city of Orlando, and all of the Magic fans have watched this guy grow from a #1 draft pick, who nobody thought deserved to be a #1 draft pick, into the most dominate “big” in the NBA. Howard has consistently upped his game each season.He continues to seek knowledge from Houston Rockets great, Hakeem Olajuwon, and that effort has truly seemed to pay dividends on the court.
I watched Howard go to his left, shoot 12 foot kisses off the glass, and use some foot-work, rather than brute strength. This kid is still so young, and raw, that his true upside could still be 3 or 4 seasons away. And Orlando looks like they might just miss out on Howard’s best basketball years. Sort of like they did with Shaquille O’Neal.
Imagine what it would be like to prepare a nice meal. Say you spend hours making a nice meal, you toss in all of the seasonings, you marinate the meat, you cook it just right, and BAM.. Somebody else walks into the kitchen, and they eat your meal. Now, Dwight Howard isn’t exactly a steak, or a plate of pasta, but just imagine the feeling of putting all of your stock into something that is supposed to be for you. And then somebody else gets it. The Magic fans have watched Howard grow into this dominate force, and he’s right at the point of being legendary, in my opinion.
And now it feels as if some other team and their fan-base are going to reap the benefits. It just doesn’t seem fair, and the worst part is, it will be the second time that this has happened. Do you think Laker fans don’t understand this? Shaq spent four seasons with the Magic, became the most dominate big-man in the league, and then took that skill and won the Lakers 3 championships. Enough in enough! The Orlando Magic have only been in existence since 1989, and they’re already on course to lose their 2nd great center. Great NBA centers don’t just grow on trees.
They’re probably the hardest commodity to come by in the NBA, and the Magic, in just 22 seasons, are on pace to have lost two of these? It just does not seem justifiable. Dwight Howard is arguable the best center to play the game since Shaquille O’Neal, and Shaq is likely one of the best ever. For the same franchise to lose both of these guys, just on the cusp of their primes, is a tough pill to swallow. So, I would ask Magic fans to prepare for the last that they’ve seen of Dwight Howard, because with the lock-out looking like it’s here to stay, game 6 against the Atlanta Hawks will likely be the last time you saw “Superman” sporting the black-n-blue pinstripes.