In what has seemed to be a nightmare season for the Orlando Magic, a back injury to their franchise player has put the team’s championship hopes in jeopardy. Dwight Howard underwent surgery on a herniated disk in his lower back, which will ultimately sideline the All-Star center for the remainder of the regular season and 2012 playoffs.
While injuries are commonplace in the game of basketball, Dwight’s came with an abundant amount of scrutiny. Prior to the season-ending surgery, the Magic big man had been rumored to be willing to sit out for the playoffs if Stan Van Gundy remained the head coach. Howard later denied the David Pingalore report, only to schedule his operation shortly thereafter. This situation contained an ire resemblance to an earlier story that involved both player and coach. Allegedly the Orlando center made a request to ownership that SVG be removed as coach during the trading deadline. The report was confirmed by Stan Van Gundy, who says he was informed by team management of Dwight’s request. Van Gundy’s interview with reporters was interrupted by Howard, which made an already awkward situation even worse.
The timing of the procedure also raised questions as to whether or not the reigning Defensive Player of the Year did intend to sit out of the playoffs, as well as the severity of the actual injury. Initially being reported as back spasms, a second opinion diagnosed Howard with a herniated disk which comes with a recovery period ranging in three to six months.
The Orlando Magic soap opera has lasted the entire lockout-shortened season. Upon entering the league year, the inevitable trade of Superman was the talk of NBA. Howard was expected to be sent to New Jersey to play alongside his friend Deron Williams. An injury to Nets center Brook Lopez put a halt on a potential deal for Howard, which resulted in an ongoing series of flip-flopping by the coveted All-Star. The Magic front office worked diligently with Howard in attempting to convince him to stay. Ultimately giving in to the fans and management’s requests, Dwight opted-in for the final year of his deal.
While the news made the Magic faithful happy, it was clear that the former Slam Dunk Champion was not. Although the Atlanta native made it clear that he didn’t want to “be LeBron James,” he may end up being seen as much worse. James went through a very difficult inaugural season with the Miami Heat after his “The Decision” special. Cleveland fans burned LeBron’s jersey and displayed hateful behavior towards the Two-Time NBA MVP. Dwight Howard merely placed a band-aid over a gunshot wound by opting in for another season.
The Orlando saga will undoubtedly resume next season once his herniated disk is fully recovered. The 26-year-old will be in the last year of his contract, and will surely make claims that he’d like to see the team make some changes. Unfortunately, the changes will likely result in the Magic hiring a new coach and building around a new franchise player in the 2012-2013 NBA season.