Hey, Dwight Howard, thanks for nothing.
That’s what the Orlando Magic fans are saying after dealing with the media circus that ended with the fickle flip-flopper finding his way into a purple and gold jersey and left the Magic with nothing.
There are two ways to view “nothing.” The first one is the obvious one, what they got in return. Let’s see, Arron Afflalo, Al Harrington, Moe Harkless, Nikola Vucevic and protected first round picks from Denver (2014), 76ers (2015) and Lakers (2017). Lopsided a bit? Perhaps more than Charles Barkley’s trade from Philly to Phoenix that netted the Sixers Jeff Hornacek, Tim Perry and Andrew Lang in 1992. Or, how about the 1980 trade that gave the Boston Celtics both Robert Parrish and a first round pick that would become Kevin McHale for two first round picks (Joe Barry Carroll and Rickey Brown)? Could it be worse than the 1996 trade that saw the Hornets send then-rookie Kobe Bryant to Los Angeles for Vlade Divac?
It just might play out to be more lopsided than all of the above.
Magic fans should have been hitting the phone lines like gangbusters asking why NBA Commissioner David Stern didn’t veto this trade as he did the Chris Paul to the Lakers trade that was nixed due to an imbalance. This is a far worse deal. If there was any time for a veto to be deemed justifiable, this would be it.
Ironically, it’s the vetoing of the Chris Paul trade that allowed the Lakers to steal Howard like a thief in the night is saying “Thanks, suckers!” Nevertheless, the Paul trade would have given the Hornets Kevin Martin, Luis Scola, Lamar Odom and Goran Dragic. That’s a pretty decent team to build around. What the Magic end up with is spare parts, protected draft picks and cap space. They couldn’t even get Pau Gasol out of the deal. Somewhere, Gasol is the only Spaniard wearing a smirk despite losing the Olympic gold medal game to the U.S. over the weekend.
How exactly was this deal better than the one the Brooklyn Nets offered that could have landed Orlando Kris Humphries (14 ppg & 11 rpg last season), MarShon Brooks (12 ppg), Brook Lopez (17 ppg & 7.5 rpg in his career) and 1st round draft picks in 2013, 2015 and 2017? Maybe it’s the fact that the Magic love losing Superman for nothing. They’ve done it once before.
Some other guy that called himself “Superman” left Orlando for the cushy confines of Los Angeles. You might remember him; Shaquille O’Neal? He also left without being able to bring a championship to Orlando. He was also criticized for his obsession with being a superstar over winning and clashing with the coach. Oh yeah, he also was horrible from the free throw line. Yeah, that guy. The guy that brought Los Angeles back-to-back-to-back championships while Orlando ended up with a gimpy Grant Hill and a barely .500 playoff team led by Tracy McGrady. At least that was better than what this could turn out to be.
The other “nothing” that Orlando can thank is the hollow promises, reality TV show drama and diva attitude that Howard carried throughout this charade. What can also be coined as “The Dwightmare” saw Howard internally destroy a team and then walk away from the smoldering fire while damaging his public image in the process. The public image will be forgiven if he wins in Los Angeles, the wreckage he left in his wake will not. COINTELPRO couldn’t have orchestrated a better covert operation that got Howard out of Orlando while pretty much corrupting the organization in the process. The virus kicked into high gear right when Howard waived his right to opt out at the end of the 2012 season and committing to stay with the Magic through the 2012-13 season. Obviously, “committing” is the equivalent of the #kanyeshrug. Howard would then check out for the season because of back problems (or, unwillingness to play). Is there anything fishy about Howard’s commitment on March 15th and by April 1st he would only play in two of the team’s last 19 games (including the playoffs)? Orlando then scrambled to make things right by canning both coach Stan Van Gundy and general manager Otis Smith. But there was no real intention of Howard staying in Orlando, hesimply waited until the season ended and fired up his “trade me or else” engine all over again. His passive aggressive indecisiveness held the entire NBA hostage as teams like Houston gutted their roster for a chance at Howard. Nobody knew what Howard wanted. Hell, Dwight Howard didn’t even know what Dwight Howard wanted.
But in the end, Orlando gave away their star for nothing. Better yet, they gave away the migraine for a future full of headaches. Howard also leaves the Magic and their fans with nothing. No championships, no pieces to build a brighter future, and no good memories because what he has done in order to leave Orlando overshadows the image he built while staying. Shaquille O’Neal will be remembered for being a Laker. Dwight Howard will likely do the same.
Perhaps, this could get the Finals the league and the fans have been begging for: Lakers vs. Heat.