Sunday, July 1, 2012

Dwight Howard Creates Drama In Magic Kingdom

There is no repairing a broken relationship with Dwight Howard, a wishy-washy, flip-flopping, flaky, don’t-know-what-he-wants diva who was given too much power and abused his authority. The circus has drained us all, and peeved our senses — over and over until we couldn’t listen to the nonsense from a man who selfishly thought about himself and no one else, as the Orlando Magic meant nothing to him, even though he preached the magnitude of loyalty.

What loyalty?

For the last few months now, Howard has put a petulant franchise in Central Florida through hell, and drawn more headlines than any other player. A long time ago, we should have seen this coming from his body language and antics, which was clear that he really was unsure about renewing his vows with a team where he is not satisfied but unhappy. He told the Magic again that he wants to be traded to the Nets. On Friday, Howard, who has grown frustrated with the situation in Orlando, met with newly minted general manager Rob Hennigan face to face in Los Angeles. So now, the Magic are listening to offers and have already had discussions about moving the disgruntled center.

It figures. He told us he wanted out of town months ago. It’s the same tired saga and it just won’t go away, until Howard finally behaves like a man and not a spoiled brat who is seeking more attention and not so much a desirable destination to satisfy him — a pouty, self-centered superstar acting like an overly controlling owner. Simply he’s only a player, not an executive upstairs making personnel decisions. And so it seems though Howard won’t be in Orlando too much longer, begging to leave an organization that was too nice and gave him too much leeway. Like many before, he abused it and was haughty and bombastic throughout the course of the season. With all indications leaning toward a trade in potentially the next 24 hours, Howard’s preferred destination is Brooklyn.

But wherever he goes, as his departure appears to be inevitable, he’s a risk judging by his immaturity and baggage. It’s almost understandable as to why he wants to leave as new management refuses to give him power, unwilling to bow down to his demands. Howard wants to be a dictator for a team that now realizes they made a dreadful mistake by giving him too much responsibility. There’s never been a player, at least from my mind, who wanted so much from a team and implored for fame and/or likability among fans and teammates. Has it ever dawn on Howard that this is one way a person can fall from grace and lose respect? If anything, he’s turning away fractious and furious Orlando fans, and the vast majority by now are ready for him to either leave or stay, burnt out from the ongoing drama that has cast a gloom on the Magic Kingdom.

If he weren't content all along, then he should have stayed true to his words from the beginning of the season when he asked to be traded, and should have had the guts to be upfront with his bosses. But instead, he was biting the hands that fed him, acting as if he was happy with the team's direction, grinning in front of the media and telling the team and reporters he would stay through the 2012-2013 season and then become a free agent the following summer. Just to refresh one’s memory, he said he wouldn’t opt out of his deal and signed a waiver to remain under contract. He was, for the moment, credible and fairly popular in Orlando, where he was a marketable player for a lone sports franchise. What no one knew about him was that he was deceptive and fibbing to us last season. His responsibilities changed and he wasn’t committed to the team, however, and promised to stay loyal to the Magic but then he chickened out on team executives, his teammates and fans. His team was fooled, you were fooled, and I was fooled. Knowing his penchant for changing his mind, he never had the self-will, desire or urgency to take accountability and perform to his highest standard.

It’s a crazy summer in Orlando, with all the Howard drama stealing and killing the buzz, as we learn more about a 7-foot center who was never Superman and never wore his cape like a superhero.

Not once did he even come close to resembling Wonder Woman or Batgirl.

The absurdity from this Dwight Howard tumult, that is already hijacking our summer while free agency has opened with swirling drama mostly surrounding Howard, is the most annoying soap opera to drag on from time to time. The whole nonsense about trying to be the most famous and likable player is ridiculous to believe when he knew exactly what his intentions were and waited until the first day of free agency to grab our attention. By flashing back to the season — keep in mind — he tried to have his former coach Stan Van Gundy fired. In hopes to please Howard, the team cut ties with Van Gundy and relieved him of his duties. On the same day, the Magic and GM Otis Smith unanimously parted ways, and none of it ended the infighting, disastrous mess in Orlando.

After all of this, Howard is still not too satisfied and is unhappy on a team where there’s no coach, and no star player to play alongside one of the biggest men in the game. But he knew from the get-go that he really wasn’t willing to play for the Magic. And with that being the case, why wasn’t he man enough to speak up and demand a trade when he asked for one during the season? It was already a divorce in the making, in which everyone had sort of gathered a sense that his days were numbered in a Magic uniform, and surely, he’s now inclined to leave.

It would be best for Howard, and it would be best for the Magic if they both went their separate ways and moved forward. What he has done, while he has had the leverage in what has become a disaster that has taken countless twists and turns, is screwed over the Magic and led them to believe that he would be staying. For a long time, however, he’s been disappointed with the organization and told people that he feels the Magic “blackmailed” him into signing the “opt-in” clause. A week ago, he and his representatives complained to the players’ union in an attempt to have the waiver lifted, which would have made him a free agent this summer.

Oh, really?

That is why it’s time to part ways. He’s turning on the Magic organization, and no one is too sure what to believe at this point — at least I’m not too sure what to take away from this convoluted, chaotic mess. It’s hard to believe Howard was “blackmailed” when he had all the power to awe us with his magic tricks. So now he doesn’t want to stay because he’s upset the Magic made promises that have been broken. That means the organization has not mollified him. But it's good he can amount to something. Howard, in eight seasons, has led the league in rebounding three times. One individual achievement that stood out the most was when he led the league in double-doubles twice. He can also say he’s played in the NBA Finals, and has been voted the league’s Defensive Player of the Year three times.

There’s no question that he’s one of most dominant centers in the game, but he still needs to mellow into a matured professional when, as of now, he’s nothing more but a petulant child creating havoc, poisoning a team with his selfish, egotistical traits that just won’t fly with some teams. He can now flirt with the notion of playing with Deron Williams, a free-agent point guard who can sign with the Dallas Mavericks. There's a feeling Williams may decide to re-sign with the Nets, hearing the trade speculations that Howard likely could come to Brooklyn. The Nets reached an agreement with swingman Gerald Wallace on a 4-year, $40 million deal and are trying to hold on to Brook Lopez, as general manager Billy King and him are negotiating a deal. And with that, the Nets are shopping for deals and targeting the likes of Joe Johnson and O.J. Mayo.

There is pity to all of this Howard insanity. And one of these days, just as Brett Favre and LeBron James, Howard will regret what he’s done and realize how much he’s made it harder on himself. This is not the way to be a likable person. If anything, it’s the way to destroy one’s reputation. Not sure he ever thought about it. For now, at least, credibility is thrown out of the door wherever he plays.