Dwight Howard Can’t Win

I’m easily influenced. By peers, by the media, by marketing. My vulnerability has led me to believe what people have to say about celebs like Kim Kardashian and Jessica Simpson. Never met ’em, yet I feel like I know them. Why do I bring this up? Because, for once, I’m bucking this trend of ‘read it, believe it’ mentality. Everyone seems to be coming down hard on Dwight Howard and, for once, I’m not going to jump on that bandwagon. I’m here to defend the second coming of Superman (Shaq, of course, being the OG).

In the modern era, players jump ship via free agency or demand trades all the time. In the NBA, Orlando’s been the frequent departing flight for emerging superstars. Shaq bounced, Penny Hardaway bounced, Tracy McGrady bounced. The franchise warms up to an up-and-coming dynamo only to see him wave adios for a bigger payday. The only retired number they had was 6 for “The Sixth Man – The Fans”, and that was unretired in 2001–2002 for Patrick Ewing. Two decades in the league and no one to claim as the prodigal son or ‘homegrown’ hero.

You could say that for a handful of franchises, with the Cavaliers being most top of mind. That’s one of the major reasons Howard’s situation has been so heavily compared to Lebron’s Decision. Cleveland and Orlando are smaller markets with rag-tag Davids competing with the Goliaths (Boston, NY, LA, Chicago, Miami). They finally have their savior to get them that elusive Finals trophy and he leaves to join the new Dark Side in the league – The Miami Heat. Who can we blame for that? How about the Boston Celtics for giving us this generation’s first “Big Three” – Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, and Ray Allen?

The main point of contention with those following the story has been Howard’s baffling waffling. The foregone conclusion was he’s going to the Nets who would most likely become major playoff contenders. Then he throws a curveball by saying he might go to LA or Chicago. He’s been crucified and lambasted for the whirlwind of contradictory statements. But, when’s all said and done, the dude’s a basketball player. He’s not a publicist. He’s not a reporter. He’s not paid ridiculous sums of money to talk. He receives a check to PLAY BASKETBALL.

Why am I defending Howard while I scold LeBron? For one, Dwight didn’t produce an absurd made-for-TV hourlong special about his decision. At least for the rest of this season, Howard remained loyal to his team. And part of me hopes he sticks with the Magic for the rest of his career. I hope this three-ring media circus is a mere lapse in judgment. A minor footnote in his career’s tome.

I’m not completely letting him off the hook – he made some bad decisions that put his team and organization in a very tumultuous predicament, but those remarks and actions were from a man who doesn’t know what he wants, who struggles with a choice that most of us will never have to endure. I understand and, to a certain extent, sympathize.

It’s tweets like Dwyane Wade’s that make the NBA a league of mercenaries and not teams. That’s something I can’t defend.

Lead image via EnglishBabyBlog

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