We are a week away from the bloodbath that will be Dwight Howard's first game back in Orlando. There is not a game Magic fans have anticipated more than any other this season.
He did not need to throw any fuel onto the fire to get Magic fans' ire up.
He may have done that anyway.
In an interview with Kristine Leahy of CBS2, Howard opened up about his transition to the Lakers and the criticisms he has received this season with the Lakers, and dating back to last year's back-and-forth with Orlando. In it, Howard tries to justify his approach to the game and his demeanor on the court. He says he "doesn't have a bad bone in his body" — something you have to believe is true considering his vast charity work and the good he did in Orlando for so long ignroing the naivete of his final year.
Then he said something interesting about the pressure of playing for the Lakers.
Howard told Leahy that in Orlando, he was playing with a bunch of players "no one wanted."
What was meant by that comment is unclear. The CBS station in Los Angeles showed highlights of Orlando's 2009 Eastern Conference Championship team. Howard could have been talking about the fact his teams were never nationally appreciated for how good they were and were the team nobody wanted to win for delaying LeBron James' ascencion.
He could very well have been talking about the final two years in Orlando when the team very well did have players no one wanted. The Magic are still digging themselves out of this mess. After all, when you acquire players by trade, you are picking up other teams' trash. There is always a reason teams are looking to deal a player.
Howard said he led the team as best he could with a smile on his face. That is his personality and he is not about to apologize for that. Nor should he apologize for the success his Magic teams had even if it was with a group of players nobody wanted in the end.
He clearly has to apologize to Orlando for toying with the fans' emotions and not realizing allegiances are not necessarily with the player but to the team. Honesty and directness usually work even in unsatisfactory situations.
Only Dwight knows what he really meant. Magic fans can only take the comments by their own definitions and perceptions. And they have, universally panning Howard for going out of his way again to slam the Magic franchise.
It is a different pressure playing for the Lakers organization than it is playing for the Magic. Howard is undoubtedly the best player in Orlando's franchise history. But he continues to throw gasoline on a fire that is growing in power and destructiveness — intentionally or unintentionally.
It is only a week now until he really feels the burn.