Why Dwight Howard Will Never Win Back Respect After 'The Indecision'

Ben ShapiroAnalyst IIIMarch 16, 2012

Dwight Howard shed light on his decision at a press conference yesterday.
Dwight Howard shed light on his decision at a press conference yesterday.

Dwight Howard is not leaving the Orlando Magic. Not this year, possibly not next year and if he were to sign a contract extension, then potentially for the remainder of his entire career. 

He could be a member of the Magic for life. 

Will his fans in Orlando forgive him for his hot-and-cold, on-again and off-again, staying-or-going vacillations over the past year? 

They probably will, they definitely will if he is able to bring a title to Orlando. The Magic as a franchise have made two trips to the NBA Finals, one in which Dwight Howard led the way, but they've yet to win a championship. 

That history insures that the player who leads the Magic to an eventual title will occupy a unique place in the hearts of Magic fans and Orlando residents. 

Across the nation, things could be different. 

Howard's complete inability to commit to anything until the last possible minute painted him as an immature child in the view of many. The constant shifting of positions was seen as a sign that Howard is more concerned or even too concerned with how he's viewed by the public.

Those concerns of course will now be tested. Regardless of whether you believe Howard's final choice was made out of a need to be liked or a fear of being disliked. 

“I’ve never been a bad person,” he said. “I’ve never changed. Nobody wants to be hated.” - New York Times 3/15/12

Was this decision what Howard really wanted, or was it made because Howard was too timid to take on the challenges of leaving Orlando?  No matter how you spin it, his national and local reputation is indeed coming under fire.

According to LZ Granderson ESPN.com, "He came across as a drama queen and consequently his leadership skills join free throw shooting as the weakest parts of his game." 

ESPN commentator Stephen A. Smith also sounded off on ESPN's First Take with his thoughts on Howard (via the Orlando Sentinel):

I think this is the most ridiculous thing I've ever seen. It's embarrassing. I respect his apology to the city, he also owes an apology to the New Jersey Nets" id="ORSPT000194" href="http://www.orlandosentinel.com/topic/sports/basketball/new-jersey-nets-ORSPT000194.topic" class="taxInlineTagLink">New Jersey Nets and others that he's dragged along in this entire process because he has made it clear where he wants to go. Nobody made this up, Chris Broussard didn't make it up, I didn't make it up, all these reporters covering the NBA across the country didn't make it up. This is something that he wanted. My issue is not his desire to stay in Orlando, it's that you're giving away your leverage and your power. If you opt in, then you're not in a position to get the five-year max deal that you would get if you opted out. It makes no sense whatsoever.

Being "liked" and being "disliked" are vastly different things. An individual can be "liked" but not respected in the same vein one can also be "disliked" but still maintain a level of respect. 

Dwight Howard, for all of his indecisiveness and flip-flopping, appears to be a very likable man. Whether or not he can translate that into respect over the remainder of his career is an entirely different question.