When most people think of Dwight Howard, they think of the dunking, blocking machine wearing a Superman cape and a big, toothy smile.
When I think of Dwight Howard I think of a fraud.
There is no doubting he is the finest big man in the game and undisputedly the best defensive player in the NBA. Whilst Shaquille O’Neal may go down as the most dominant big man in the history of the game, he couldn’t do what Dwight Howard does on a nightly basis. I am in no way disrespecting Dwight Howard the basketball player, I am very much against Dwight Howard the person.
When LeBron James took his talents to South Beach, Dwight Howard was unafraid to voice his distaste towards James’ actions and said he himself would never do the same. Howard has had a lasting rivalry with Shaquille O’Neal over the course of their aligning careers because of Howard’s criticism of O’Neal’s decision to pack up and leave Orlando to head to the bright lights of Los Angeles. Howard also adopted Shaq’s nickname, Superman, and ran with the charade through his meteoric rise to stardom in the 2008 and 2009 dunk competitions.
Yet earlier this year Dwight Howard knocked back a contract extension with the Magic, confessing his desire to enter free agency and refusing to sign any deal before then. The hypocrisy began.
Not only was Howard re-enacting the LeBron James saga exactly (minus the TV special, although there is still time for that), but few believed he was had decided on a path along the very same lines of his predecessor, Shaquille O’Neal.
However Howard had not technically said he was going to be leaving the Magic, just that he would test free agency, so he was safe.
About 10 days ago Dwight Howard officially requested a trade from the Orlando Magic. Howard cited the reason for the trade was that he felt he was not consulted on the direction of the team going forward, particularly in regards to trades, and felt he had to leave to win a championship.
Before the trade was formally requested, it was revealed Dwight Howard and his people met with Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov, partial owner Jay Z and GM Billy King. Ouch, anyone else getting that stabbing feeling in the back? It was following this meeting that Howard was going to go to the Magic and request a trade, leaving Orlando in the dark about the secret meetings with New Jersey/Brooklyn. Howard denied the meeting took place the next day as the Magic considered legal action against the Nets, but it was confirmed the meeting did take place. Howard publicly beginning to look more and more like the spineless liar I know him to be.
So Howard then went to the Magic with a list of three teams he wished to be traded to. The New Jersey/Brooklyn Nets, the Dallas Mavericks and the Los Angeles Lakers.
Wait a second! The Los Angeles Lakers! Haven’t you been trash talking Shaquille O’Neal for 6 years about selling out and moving to Hollywood? Now the first opportunity you get you ask for the exact same thing? Didn’t you say you refused to follow in his footsteps and wanted to make your own legacy?
Not a good look Dwight.
Howard had to front the media following his trade request which became much too public for his liking. I stand by the point I am about to make and I will fight anyone that disagrees with me.
There is no player in the NBA, perhaps in North American professional sport, that cares more about his image and generally being liked than Dwight Howard.
He lives for attention, for exposure and for love. He wants everyone to love him. And this trade request, secret meeting and slovenly irrelevant reason for doing so was severely hurting that reputation. He saw the flak the league took from the public during the Chris Paul mess. He saw the hate LeBron James and the Miami Heat got from the majority of the country over the past 12 months. He knows well the dislike of his franchise towards Shaquille O’Neal.
The Dwight Howard that appeared in front of the media following his trade request was the most real Dwight Howard we have seen. He offered no impersonations, no big cheesy grins and no lame but loveable jokes. He was completely cut open and I loved every second of it. Never have I seen him more uncomfortable in front of a camera or a crowd of people, and it’s likely we won’t see so again.
There’s no doubt that was the catalyst for what was to come.
A few days later Howard completed another hypocritical, sham-ridden U turn as he was interviewed at a Magic training session. Howard tried to clean up the situation, saying how much he loved the organisation, how he wants to see some big moves made and how there is no other place he would rather be.
If anyone believed a word of that I feel very sorry for you. I genuinely feel sorry for Magic fans anyway, because they are the ones that will be the most hurt from this and they are the ones that have been suckered into believing this crap from this guy for too long.
The Magic then told the media they were pulling Howard off the trade block. It is likely he was involved in this facade. Do not believe it for one second. There are two possibilities as to what is going on with this increasingly stupid situation.
a) Howard became so self conscious and insecure about the growing animosity towards him due to his selfish and hypocritical actions that he let his true feelings get in the way of his desire to be loved, and as such told the Magic he would remain with the team.
b) Howard became so self conscious and insecure about the growing animosity towards him due to his selfish and hypocritical actions that he asked the Magic to publicly take him off the trade block whilst still privately attempting to strike a deal with one of the three teams on Howard’s list. Even after Howard was ‘officially’ taken off the trade block, sources reported the Nets were in talks with the Magic over a three or four team trade. Interesting…
I have thought long and hard and I cannot say which of the two I believe to be true. Neither would surprise me.
Regardless of what is being played out to the media by the Magic and Dwight Howard, there is much more happening behind closed doors. Howard does not want to be in Orlando but he so desperately craves acceptance that he is willing to delay or even sacrifice a fantastic opportunity to win that elusive championship to ensure his image is intact.
I do not believe Dwight Howard will finish the season with the Magic. I think it’s inevitable he starts the season with them however.
All I ask of you is not to be taken in by the fierce dunks, the big smile and the playful persona. Deep down he is just as fraudulent as the people of Hollywood he so wishes to be one of.
Tags: Billy King Brooklyn Nets Cleveland Cavaliers Dallas Mavericks Dwight Howard Jay-Z LA Lakers Los Angeles Lakers Miami Heat Mikhail Prokhorov New Jersey Nets Orlando Magic Shaquille O'neal Superman