Dwight Howard’s midlife crisis has come about some two decades or so prematurely. If it’s any consolation to the Orlando Magic temperamental star center most of his team’s brass seems convinced they have the perfect anecdote for ridding him of all his misery.
“We need Dwight to decide where his future lies,” team CEO Alex Martins chastised earlier this week after announcing the organization had parted ways with Coach Stan Van Gundy and GM Otis Smith, all in an orchestrated attempt to make a future with the team more appealing.
“We’re not going to (again) go through the type of season we went through this season,” Martin added.” Our fans don’t deserve that… our ownership doesn’t deserve that. We want to have the future solidified.”
With that, Alex Martin seems of the persuasion it’s completely within reason that Dwight Howard would be willing to sacrifice his own growth and future fulfillment for the sake of his bosses. As for all the rhetoric about truly letting the people of Orlando know what it is he wants, short of the 7-foot, 300 and something pound wunderkind scaling Disney’s nearby Magic Mountain dressed in his Superman cape and screaming it on high, what more does he really need to do to make his inner-more feelings known to management?
On at least a handful of occasions— the most recent of which being this year’s midseason trade deadline— Howard has tilted from diplomatically to demonstratively demanding to be moved to one of several expressed destinations, only to somewhat relent after being blindsided with the same sort of guilt trip Martin again tried to handcuff him with earlier this week.
And yet in the end, nothing seems to have meted Howard’s overall resolve. Quite the contrary, as his camp spent much of the week reiterating his stance and even adding both both the Clippers and the Lakers and perhaps even Chicago to a preferred list that was once topped by the likes of New Jersey, Dallas and New York.
While clearly there are those who would have you believe that on the strength of having amassed his sizeable fortune, estimated to be in the neighborhood of $65 million, at the expense of the Magic over the last eight seasons Howard has somehow irretrievably rendered himself indebted to that franchise. That’s what’s known as Business 101—capitalism in its most basic form— not to mention the fact that if Howard has raked in that much cheddar, the Magic have feasted on a whole lot more over the same period.
Truth be known, Howard’s proven to be quite the bargain, with the Magic consistently ranking in the top half of average attendance among NBA teams over the last several years largely on the strength of his All-NBA play, highlighted by a 2010 Finals run.
And where was talk of such loyalty just last week when Patrick Ewing, Howard’s tutor and mentor throughout much of his Orlando refinement, confirmed he would he be leaving the organization without so much as being granted an in interview in hopes of replacing Van Gundy?
The bottom line is contracts should be inked with service not servitude in mind, and as such Dwight Howard should be free to make the best deal for himself— wherever and whenever that may be.
Glenn Minnis is a veteran sports and culture writer who has contributed to the likes of ESPN, Vibe and the NFL Magazine. He has also been on staff at AOL Sports, the Chicago Tribune and was the founding sports editor for 360HipHop.com. You can follow him on Twitter at @glennnyc.