If you ask any professional main-stream magician in the industry they will probably agree that there tends to be 3 major rules when assuming a career as a magician
The first rule is to never reveal the secret to the trick, the second is to practice to perfection and the third is to never repeat the same tricks in front of the same exact audience. Seems to be a very logical and clear cut credo to live by right?
But there is one man in Orlando who isn’t holding up to his end of the bargain. A man who not only violates my metaphorical reference to the 3 prime rules, but does so at the behest to not only part ways with his employer but to humiliate everyone within reach while doing so.
I’ve been a fan of Dwight Howard and think he is one of the incredible talents we currently have in the NBA. But the past few seasons I have become less enamored with the self proclaimed “Super Man“, even more so this season. In fact I proclaim that Howard is the biggest fraud toting an All-Star jersey in this year’s game.
A fraud because although the NBA All-Star selection process is almost borderline the biggest joke in sports, it still is an honor amongst NBA players and franchises that have those players on their roster. With that being said I find it almost criminal that Howard gets to don a Magic jersey and emblem on national TV during a game that means nothing, when in reality he is the furthest thing from an All-Star.
Sure it is pure fact that Howard received the most votes to be selected to the All-Star game and his stats are certainly “elite caliber” but I hardly think that merely stats and votes embody the entire “All Star” element.
First and foremost it can be easily assumed that a majority of the votes that landed Howard in the All-Star roster came from Orlando Magic fans. The same fans that have had to endure Howard’s child-like attitude and blatant disrespect for the past few seasons. The same fans that know deep down that while they stamped Howard’s ticket to the All-Star game, he will most likely use the marketing opportunity to pique more interest into his own trade talk. Essentially, Dwight Howard wants to rub your face in it more and wants to do it on national tv in front of the entire league.
That’s your All-Star?
It’s no secret that on any NBa news site there is daily talk of the Dwight Howard sweepstakes, who is in the running, who has the best fit and where Dwight wants to go. It has been in the news for months if not over a year now. Howard has done everything in his power for a few years now to let it be known he is not happy with the roster in Orlando and now is doing everything to let you know he wants out.
So before we all get ahead of ourselves and start fantasizing about which team lands Howard let’s go back to my original statement regarding the magician rules. Although they are only related because magicians work with “magic” and Orlando’s basketball team is called the “Magic” if you look a little deeper you will see Howard’s disregard for the credo I pointed out.
Never Reveal the Secret to the Trick
More or less this means just perform and let the behind the scenes action stay behind the scenes. Howard has taken every opportunity to run his trade demand like a political campaign. His almost-weekly adjustments to his trade demand list of teams is similar to multiple debates between presidential candidates. Back and forth, no certainty and a lot of proclamations with no substance. Howard doesn’t want out of Orlando, but he wants Orlando to pucker up and kiss his ass along the way. Never mind that Orlando has made Dwight their entire franchise and has stuck by him through his suspensions, trade demands and deficiencies (yes, I said deficiencies).
But that’s not even the biggest offense Mr.Howard has committed. He’s ripped down the curtain on the Orlando Magic and has taken numerous shots at his teammates. In late January after the Magic were blown out by the New Orleans Hornets, Howard made the following comments
“I look at guys and they don’t look like they want to play. I told them at halftime, ‘If you don’t want to play, just stay in the locker room, because it don’t make sense for a team who we should beat to just demolish us.’ ”
It hurts to get out there and you play your hardest and you expect everybody to play the same way, and I’m not calling anybody out by no means because we all have to get better … but if you don’t want to be out there, don’t dress up,” Howard said. “If you don’t want to play, stay home. People work too hard. I want to win a championship. I work too hard every night for anybody to not want to go out there and play hard. …
“None of the — whatever, trade stuff — none of that stuff matters. Play basketball. That’s why we all get paid to do this, because we love the game and it’s basketball, so why not give it your all?”
That’s not the first time Howard took shots at his teammates. In 2011, Howard yet again ripped into his teammates after a loss to the Sacramento Kings:
“I’ve said everything there is to say,” said Howard, sitting dejectedly in front of his lockers with a semi-circle of reporters around him. “That’s it. I’ve talked every timeout, when we’re in the huddle, in the locker room… What, you want me to Tweet about it? I’ve done everything I’m supposed to do as a leader.”
“Everybody on the team has to step up and play hard,” he said. “I’m not singling anybody out; I’m not calling anybody out. But as a team, if we don’t play hard we’re going to lose every night.”
“We have a lot of talent, but talent will not get you a championship,” Howard said. “We’re one of the most talented teams in the NBA. We’re a deep team. We’ve got guys who can do a lot of different things. But if we don’t bring it every night, it’s a waste of talent.”
That’s leadership Dwight. Instead of keeping this behind closed doors like a leader would do embarrass and demean your teammates publicly. While ripping teammates isn’t anything new to sports there seems to be a certain code of conduct when doing that. One leader, a true leader, who is known for airing out dirty laundry is Kobe Bryant, but Bryant does so in a way that doesn’t hinder the current progress of the team. Take this interview excerpt from Bryant’s interview with the Washington Post for example. In the article Bryant rips former-teammate Kwame Brown, but the interview was conducted in 2011, a few years after Brown was long gone from Los Angeles:
“I got to say, it was tough doing it that year. I was playing with guys, God bless them — God bless them — but Kwame Brown. Smush Parker. We had one game right before…by the way, what I say here, I say directly to them, see what I’m saying, I don’t talk behind people’s back. Things that I say to you, I’m comfortable saying this to them and I’ve said this to them…But like, the game before we traded for Pau, were playing Detroit and I had like 40 points towards the end of the game. This is back when Detroit had Rasheed [Wallace], Chauncey [Billups] and those guys, so we had no business being in the game. So down the stretch of the game, they put in a box and one. So I’m surrounded by these players, Detroit players, and Kwame is under the basket, all by himself. Literally, like all by himself. So I pass him the ball, he bobbled it and it goes out of bounds.
“So we go back to the timeout and I’m [upset], right? He goes, ‘I was wide open.’ ‘Yeah, I know.’ This is how I’m talking to him, like, during the game. I said, ‘You’re going to be open again, Kwame, because Rasheed is just totally ignoring you.’ He said, ‘Well, if I’m open don’t throw it to me.’ I was like, ‘Huh?’ He said, ‘Don’t throw it to me.’ I said, ‘Why not?’ He said, well, ‘I’m nervous. If I catch it and he foul me, I won’t make the free throws.’ I said, ‘Hell no!’
“I go to Phil [Jackson], I say, ‘Hey Phil, take him out of the game.’ He’s like, ‘Nah, let him figure it out.’ So, we lose the game, I go the locker room, I’m steaming. Steaming. I’m furious. Then, finally I get a call, they said, ‘You know what, we got something that’s happening with Pau.’ I was like, ‘Alright. Cool.’…That’s what I had to deal with the whole year.”
Take some notes Howard. It doesn’t do a damn thing to publicly roast teammates that are still on your team.
Practice to Perfection
There is no denying that Dwight Howard is a monster on the court. Throughout his career he has averaged 18.3 points per game, 12.9 rebounds per game and over 2 blocks a game. Those aren’t numbers to sneeze at by any means.
But consider that Dwight Howard has been virtually the same exact player the past several seasons. Lacks any true elite post game, has little to no mid-range game to stretch the defense and still shoots horribly from the line.
In a year where Howard is demanding a trade and ripping teammates he is down 2.4 points in scoring, down in blocks, and down in both field goal and free throw percentage. Last year Howard shot 59% from the field and for his career shots 57% but this season Howard is lingering around 55%.
As bad as Howard has been throughout his entire career from the free throw line (59%) he had one of his “better” seasons at the line last year shooting 59.6%. But this season, Howard is even worse and almost abysmal with a 48%.
So while Howard is out ripping teammates and campaigning his trade demands he isn’t in the gym working on his free throws or studying film on Hakeem Olajuwon and Shaquille O’Neal who both evolved their games throughout their career.
Maybe Dwight would benefit from calling the real “Super Man” of the NBA, Shaquille O’Neal and receive some schooling on how to improve. Say what you will about Shaq’s free-throw deficiencies but the man evolved within the Lakers triangle offense improving both his assists and his turnovers while developing a more rounded low-post game. Shaq also wont a championship with an in-tact roster. No trade demands, no bitching. In fact, he never even did so in Orlando.
Howard has been trying to get by with the same tricks in front of the same exact audience (Rule #3) for years and has made little to no attempt to evolve.
Take into consideration that Olajuwon and O’Neal played in pretty much the same era and were considered elite amongst the likes of Patrick Ewing, David Robinson, Tim Duncan, Alonzo Mourning, Rik Smits and Dikembe Mutombo. Nowadays Howard has to fend off the likes of Andrew Bynum and Brook Lopez and maybe Joakim Noah, 2 of those players aren’t even fully evolved yet.
It’s time for Dwight Howard to stop pointing the finger of blame at everyone else and starting doing it in a mirror. Aside from the decline of some of your numbers you are a walking technical foul that freely gives away free throws/points to the other team each night. Maybe Dwight needs to factor in the points he costs his team with penchant for fouls? But then again, those fouls are just the NBA and David Stern head-hunting you right? Not a lack of discipline or a will to work on becoming a better player?
Or maybe Howard should realize that it’s impossible to expect the players around you to “buy in” and play their hearts out with him as a team “leader”. Especially when you don’t even want to be there and haven’t wanted to be there for a long time. Furthermore, why would they want any part of you when all you do is bury them in the press, get suspended because you lack discipline and have no idea the true meaning of a leader.
Dwight doesn’t want to lead, he wants the “Carmelo Anthony fix”. He wants to cry and throw tantrums until he gets the shiny new toy instead of doing his chores and earning an allowance to buy it on his own.
Maybe Orlando should take Jerry West’s latest interview with ESPN Los Angeles to heart. West touched on the topic of the trend of NBA players and trade demands:
“I honestly think I’d call their bluff,” West said in an interview on 710 ESPN’s Mason and Ireland show Thursday, not mentioning Howard specifically. “I really would, because I don’t think any agent or player is going to leave $30 million on the table.
“I just don’t believe that’s going to happen.”
West had another interview where he said this:
“If I were an executive on a team where a player says he’s going to leave, let him leave,” West said on 710 ESPN’s Max and Marcellus show earlier Thursday. “It would be better than saddling yourself with a bunch of players that are not going to fit in to what you’re trying to do — high-salaried players, in many cases overpaid players by today’s standards, that would burden you going forward.
“I’d almost rather start over again myself. You’re not going to replace that player, but there’s an enormous penalty there and it looks like to me like the inmates are running the asylum if you let that happen.”
Seems to me the Magic should call Howard’s bluff. In fact since he has no interest in playing for them, maybe benching him would suffice. Sure you tank your entire season and probably piss off a portion of your fans, but Howard has made a mockery of the Magic, the team and in-directly the Orlando fans.
He has held the organization hostage while dragging the Magic name and the players through the mud. Why not make a bold statement and say “we aren’t trading you, sit your ass on the bench”. It will decrease his value (maybe a tad at best) and send a clear message to your fans that this type of stuff isn’t acceptable or tolerated, not even “Super Man”. Plus it certainly shows the world how much of a bratty little kid Dwight Howard is.
Heck, maybe Orlando would win more games. Maybe the Magic can turn into the Denver Nuggets after they dumped Carmelo Anthony to the Knicks?
If all of that were to happen, that would be the biggest middle finger right back at Dwight Howard. Bigger than M.I.A’s middle finger during the halftime of the Super Bowl.
When considering all that I have stated, it seems to be a better gamble for the Magic to make “Super Man” dress like Clark Kent and take a seat on the bench for good.