Orlando Magic dropped the ball worse than they did during a three-team trade that brought in Gilbert Arenas, Jason Richardson and Hedo Turkoglu. Orlando ended up going on a six-game winning streak that ended up abruptly with a slew of should-have and could-have losses.
Orlando finds its franchise in a hole with one of the biggest superstars in the land. The Magic are keeping Howard as he will relinquish his early termination option.
Miami, where another condemned star lies.
LeBron James went down a similar road, one that ended with him exiting a franchise he had represented for seven years, but stay with me here.
Everyone hated James for what he did to the Cleveland Cavaliers during the “The Decision." He was a narcissistic jerk with zero compassion for the fans and the franchise he had revived. This is what everyone thought and most of the free world still thinks about the King—or, as he is often called during the fourth quarter, the Queen.
The biggest difference between what he did and what Howard did: Howard did not wait until the season was over to plague his teammates with conversations of their illegitimacy. He paraded trade options in their faces in the media before a deal had even been proposed.
At least LeBron waited until his franchise could risk being distracted. Not to mention, Howard did all of this to just land exactly where Orlando fans begged him to all along.
Now what? What is Orlando going to achieve for the rest of the season? Where will it land at regular season’s end?
The problem is that the Orlando Magic are not even a favorite to make it past the first round of the postseason. Forget making it out of the Eastern Conference. The Magic have not even scripted an opportunity to beat out teams like the Philadelphia 76ers or the Indiana Pacers.
Both play with far too much heart to weigh equally against a Magic team that is seen going through the motions more often than not. Howard should be taking them there. Howard should be their Superman.
Instead, he finds himself offering weak excuses to media members. "I have gotten some bad advice," Howard said. "I apologize for this circus I have caused to the fans of our city. They didn't deserve none of this."
Yes, Dwight Howard. You have caused the fans of Orlando immense grief and jubilation in a repeating and nauseating order. It only makes the journey less worthy now that you have decided to sign on the dotted line. Yes, your actions have been non-conducive to the Orlando franchise’s well-being.
His schizophrenic desires have done nothing for the team morale either.
After promising his teammates he would opt in for the 2012-2013 season, he refused to sign the paperwork Orlando required him to. What kind of loyalty and consideration did that show? Just because he has finally decided to give it a go with the Magic one last time, his teammates will not be so quick to forget this three-ring circus.
Yet, Dwight Howard will not take accountability for his actions. He is willing to lay the blame squarely on his agent’s shoulders with statements like “I have gotten some bad advice."
What kind of leadership does that signal for his future career in Orlando?
It signals the type of leadership that will leave Orlando ring-less for another number of seasons. The Magic would have probably been rotting in mediocrity because of the Chicago Bulls and the Miami Heat anyway. With proper leadership it would not have been because of internal issues.
However, now that it has become apparent that Howard is not the man we all thought he was, the problems in Orlando have skyrocketed past trade issues. The Magic have coasted alongside the lack of a dire trade that would have allowed the franchise to start over.
Instead, the team is stuck with a man that perpetrates as a superstar but cannot seem to make his own decisions separate from those surrounding him. Orlando fans should be forgiving, though. After all, he has gotten some bad advice.
The rest of the seasons should be unnerving for Chicago and Miami fans on either side of the conference. Howard should start putting up 20-plus field-goal attempts a night, improving his free-throw percentage and taking on a stronger role in the team’s huddles.
This should be apparent all in one breath, simply because Howard owes his teammates and those who pay to watch him some resolve. Hell, he owes the league some sort of resolve.
It’s time for everyone to face that fact that he is not the man we thought he was. If you hated LeBron for “The Decision,” I can’t imagine how you could overlook Dwight Howard's cruel game of chess ever since the offseason. He has been teeter-tottering between trade destinations for the entirety of the first half of the season.
Dwight Howard should be cast out of the shadow of the “good guy” box everyone put him in before. Howard is not the lighthearted personality Orlando probably wishes he was.
After everything that has happened, Orlando should expect him to take the team through the exact same thing in 2013—that is, unless he has changed agents, because as we all know he was given some bad advice from the one he employs now.
Follow Joye Pruitt on Twitter @JoyetheWar