Dwight Howard is thinking about his legacy… and wrestling

The end of Dwight Howard's career is drawing near and the Orlando Magic legend is thinking about his legacy and what comes next. Mandatory Credit: Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports
The end of Dwight Howard's career is drawing near and the Orlando Magic legend is thinking about his legacy and what comes next. Mandatory Credit: Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports /

This is indeed the time of year when everyone starts to think about things beyond basketball.

Rosters throughout the NBA are getting finalized. It is like a game of musical chairs and inevitably someone is going to be left standing when the music stops.

That can include a lot of young players trying to fight their way into the league. But it also includes several players who are seeing their opportunities dry up. The end of the road is nearing.

Dwight Howard is one of those players.

After wrapping up last season with the Los Angeles Lakers, he remains unsigned as the free agent pool dries up. He would likely once again be staring down a minimum contract if he does sign anywhere.

But after an 18-year career, Howard’s time in the NBA appears to be nearing an end. And Howard is even contemplative about his career, certainly soured a bit by his (wrongful) exclusion from the NBA’s 75th Anniversary team.

Dwight Howard’s NBA career appears to be coming close to its end. The Orlando Magic legend is thinking about his legacy and what might be next.

Howard is clearly thinking some about his legacy as the end of his career nears.

He statistically should be a shoo-in Hall of Famer, but like with Vince Carter, his status has somehow become hotly debated. Even to the point Howard is not sure he will be welcomed immediately into Springfield in five or more years when he becomes eligible:


Howard’s Hall of Fame credentials really are unimpeachable, largely because of his time in Orlando.

Howard played his first eight seasons with the Magic, averaging 18.4 points per game, 13.0 rebounds per game and 2.2 blocks per game. He won three Defensive Player of the Year Awards and helped lead the Magic to the 2009 Finals.

Howard is on the Mt. Rushmore of Magic players as one of the clear top four players, if not in the top two, if not the top player in Magic history. We will leave that debate for another day.

But the other side of Howard’s legacy is the frustration he left behind everywhere he went.

Even writing this post on a Magic site is likely to generate some hate toward Howard. Certainly, any suggestion that the Magic should retire Howard’s jersey or welcome him back into the fold is usually met with some resistance.

Just as there are still plenty of fans who want to see the Magic give Howard a final year in a Magic uniform — that will not happen with the team’s roster completely full and Howard’s still value to title-contending teams (he averaged 6.2 points and 5.9 rebounds per game in 60 games last year for the Los Angeles Lakers, his third tour with the Lakers).

Howard’s legacy in the city that should embrace him and his legacy is still uncertain. Time will heal all wounds and Howard will be welcomed home to Orlando at some point — he will get into the Orlando Magic Hall of Fame one day and if the Magic ever start retiring jerseys, No. 12 will go up to the Amway Center rafters.

The unfortunate part for Howard is he left a sour taste in a lot of fans’ mouths as he left teams in his prime and sought his place in the league. Ultimately injuries ended his peak sooner than it should have and he became a wanderer later in his career.

Now, it seems like it is coming to an end. Howard is feeling some of that incompleteness.

But Howard has also always been unabashedly himself — even when everyone is trying to get him to change or conform to something normal.

The famous Sports Illustrated headline before the 2009 Finals asked if Howard was having “Too much fun” and the criticism about him as he led the 2009 and 2010 Magic to the precipice of a championship was about his level of seriousness.

The Magic botched their roster building as they tried to hang onto contention. But there was also certainly a level of seriousness that came over Howard that limited his play. He felt the pressure to win and crumbled a bit, losing himself in the process.

What Howard does next seems like something that is more in his wheelhouse and perhaps where his personality was always going.

Howard may very well indeed be thinking about what comes next in his life beyond his basketball career. He attended a WWE tryout in Nashville ahead of SummerSlam this weekend (although it does not appear he participated beyond cutting a few promos):

Dwight Howard met with WWE creative director Paul “Triple H” Levesque and seemed genuinely to be asking questions of the tryout attendees about the art of taking bumps and wrestling. He certainly has the larger-than-life personality to make it in the ring.

If Howard is serious about joining WWE — and the company wants to give him the chance and training — that would bring Howard back to Central Florida and the company’s performance center in Winter Park. In that sense, Howard may finally get a chance to come back home and a chance to reconnect with the city he left behind.

Perhaps helping in the healing is the chance at a new superstar to leave the sting of Howard’s departure behind.

To Howard’s critics, his dalliance with wrestling may be confirmation of everything they believed about him — he always cared more about the show than about the seriousness of competition.

But honestly, this feels like Howard shedding those criticisms and finally being himself. He will have the chance to smile again. No one should question his physical ability — although his history of back issues may make taking bumps harder for him.

And no one should question Howard’s legacy as he begins to ponder life beyond the NBA. He is a Hall of Famer and one of the best players in Magic history.

Next. Orlando Magic have to define roles to find success. dark

That is ultimately the legacy that matters and should be more than secured.