Jayne Kamin-Oncea/USA TODAY
Wednesday night, the Magic will get their first look at Dwight Howard in a Houston Rockets uniform.
Even though a year has passed (and a whole franchise) since Howard was on the Magic, he still casts a large shadow on the franchise. It is hard not to think of Howard when thinking of the team's history and how far the Magic have to go to get back to those heights.
Howard had a tumultuous two years, writhing in the wind of his free agent indecision. His last year in the Magic was awkward to say the least. He announced he had asked for a trade out of Orlando in December before the lockout-shortened season. However, he continually left the door open for the Magic to re-sign him time and time again.
Then he bafflingly declined his early termination option, signing up seemingly for another year in Orlando. Then the zaniness happened with Stan Van Gundy and Howard disappeared to rehab his back injury. He was done with the organization at that point and a trade had to happen. It would to the Los Angeles Lakers in August.
The Magic's all-time leading scorer will slowly mend fences and admitted there are things he misses about being in Orlando (h/t Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel):
There were some things that I missed about Orlando. There's a lot of situations that nobody really knows that I kept on the inside, but there's some things about Orlando that I missed. I'd say that getting out in the community and doing a lot of stuff that I did, I miss doing that stuff in Orlando and the relationships that I built with a lot of people over there in Orlando. I miss that.
But I have no regrets. I'm happy everything happened the way it happened. Even though I got hurt in the process and I had to go through a tough time, it made me a better person. I'm more mature now. I know how to handle situations different than I did back then.
Howard needed to mature a bit with his desire to please everyone and remain a media darling. He still needs to do that. But he is only 28 and, if he can regain his health, is still a defensive force in this league. Howard remains a very very good player.
Howard is ready to move on. The Lakers experiment was a complete disaster as he did not mesh with his teammates and struggled to recover from his back injury. He used his free agency to find a good situation for him in Houston.
This is just the first step in repairing the bridges with Orlando. Howard has not apologized to fans for yo-yoing with their hearts after supporting him for so long. Maybe that will come after his career is over. He, like everyone else, just wants to move on.
Howard still does a lot of good in the Orlando community. He will forever be a part of the franchise as one of its greatest players. One day, all will be forgiven and fans and Howard will remember the good times rather than the year and a half of drama and animosity.
Time heals all wounds.