“I never said I wanted to leave stop reading the rumors. It’s really stupid. And annoying to be honest. They tryna make something outta nothing I have another yr under my contract before I can sign”
That is what Dwight Howard posted on Twitter on Monday afternoon in response to a plea by a fan to stay in Orlando. And it shows exactly where Howard’s focus is right now.
Where it should be. On this season. This is perhaps the kind of leadership and focus he should direct toward his teammates instead of at fans. But Howard makes a crucial point as Magic fans worry about the demise of their team.
Howard is doing right by him. He is not committing to a future in Orlando while saying all the right things about the city. He has every right to explore free agency and see what is out there. Magic fans have every right to worry, but it should not be the all-consuming concern. That, I believe, was one of the contributing factors to LeBron James’ departure in Cleveland.
The Cavaliers became reactionary in building a team. They worked to surround James instead of building a team. Orlando, at least until the December trades, were not doing that. The Magic had built a team from the ground up and watched it grow.
Of course, that has all changed now and the Magic are really struggling. But that does not mean it is time to completely abandon ship and sign off on Dwight’s departure.
Only Dwight really knows what he wants to do. I do not blame him for weighing his options and seeing what is out there. I truly believe he likes Orlando and would love to stay. However, and this is something to like about him, he wants to win. That is what he cares about most. All the rumors are about him wanting to play in a big market for the business opportunities. That to me seems fishy since Howard is already one of the top endorsers in the league — from Orlando.
What, I believe, Howard really wants is national respect and media acceptance. There is no other superstar in the league who gets criticized as much as Howard. And reading into his comments (perhaps a bit more than I should), it feels like he just wants to be put on the same playing field of esteem as James, Kobe Bryant and other superstars.
If playing for a quirky team in a small market can’t get him that, he will leave. If another opportunity to win a title opens somewhere else, he will leave.
One thing that is sure to annoy him most is fans begging him this year to stay. And media constantly harping on him about the subject. James got tired of it last year when he declared radio silence on his summer plans in an interview before the first Magic-Cavaliers game last year. Howard seems to be tiring of the subject already. The media cannot leave it alone though, because it is a story and people will read it (why do you think I posted this?).
Otis Smith has done a ton to keep Howard in Orlando. The Magic broke the bank to build this team (even if unsuccessful). The summer of 2012 may just be an “it is time to move on” rather than a “pack up your bags and let’s get out of here in the middle of the night” departure.
But Howard is definitely right about one thing. The summer of 2012 will come. But it is not today. Today the Magic need to get to work to start playing for a title.