For all the moves NBA teams have made this off-season, it's a shame the Dwight Howard saga has stolen the show. And news Tuesday that Howard would not make an appearance at his summer basketball camp for kids in Orlando made it even worse.
I understand why the Magic have waited to trade Howard up until this point -- I wouldn't want the Nets' Brook Lopez or the Lakers' Andrew Bynum either if I had been used to Dwight Howard playing at the Amway Center. Bynum is a wonderful player who is not going to lead any team to a championship and Lopez is good, but not great, a terrible rebounder with an even worse contract (4 years, 60 + million dollars). The offers have not been superb for a player who is superb; perhaps with time, the thinking went, the offers will sweeten and so too will the fortunes of a franchise in dire need of some help.
But Tuesday's development changes things for the Magic, who now need to put the city of Orlando first and deal Dwight Howard immediately. With the media backlash Howard is receiving, I would not be surprised if we see him get on a flight to Orlando and try desperately to save his image. But that shouldn't alter a thing for the front office of the Magic -- enough is enough and pushing Orlando to trade him with a gesture as selfish as this says a lot about what kind of a young man Howard is at this stage in his life. Not the kind you would want to lead a franchise, that's for sure, but let another team realize that for themselves and start rebuilding the Magic now.
I get why Dwight Howard does not want to play for a team that has no shot of winning a championship; he's made several mistakes along the way, but it is fine that he wants to play somewhere where he can win. The issue here is that he has done the thing he had no reason to do, he failed his fans, both the ones who thought they were going to meet their idol and the ones who paid two hundred dollars to make their child's summer. You can say all you want about LeBron James and his decision to leave the Cleveland Cavaliers, but James stayed committed to the Ohio community, where his charity's headquarters has remained in Akron. When Howard finally does get his wish and this is all over, let's hope Howard learns a thing or two from James' post-Cavalier strides and attempts to rebuild his image in earnest.
Although new Magic GM Rob Hennigan might not have wanted to trade Dwight Howard just yet, on Tuesday the necessary move for the franchise became the right one. They probably aren't going to be a playoff team with whomever they receive in return, but with the draft picks they will also obtain, the post-Howard future may be surprisingly bright in Orlando. If Hennigan is committed to the city of Orlando, he'll trade the player once known as "Superman," because the fans of the Magic have gone through too much already and they deserve better.