Dwight Howard Drama Shows That LeBron Handled His Free Agency the Right Way

Andre Khatchaturian@AndreKhatchCorrespondent IIIApril 6, 2012

ORLANDO, FL - MARCH 30:  Dwight Howard #12 of the Orlando Magic is fouled by Vince Carter #25 of the Dallas Mavericks during the game at Amway Center on March 30, 2012 in Orlando, Florida.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)
Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

Two years ago, LeBron James played for the Cleveland Cavaliers. His team was involved in a best-of-seven series against the Boston Celtics in the NBA playoffs. 

LeBron James averaged 26.8 points, 9.3 rebounds and 7.2 assists in that series. As a result of his dynamic performance and his single-handed effort to lift the Cavs over the Celtics, he was labeled a quitter by Cavaliers' owner Dan Gilbert.

"He quit. Not just in Game 5, but in Games 2, 4, and 6. Watch the tape. The Boston series was unlike anything in the history of sports for a superstar."

Really, Dan?

Never thought scoring a triple-double in an elimination playoff game constituted as quitting. That's exactly what James did in Game 6 of that series, scoring 27 points, 19 rebounds and 10 assists in a Cavs loss. 

This was James' last year with the Cavs, and in that offseason, he bolted to Miami.

Fast forward two years and we find ourselves in a similar situation with Dwight Howard of the Orlando Magic. He's a superstar playing without much help for a team that he's been carrying on his back throughout much of his career.

Howard becomes a free agent soon and has been subject to incessant trade rumors all year long. After not being dealt during the trade deadline, he opted to waive his early termination option and stay with the Magic for one more season. 

He's handling his free-agency situation the way the public wanted LeBron to handle his two years ago. He's telling ownership that he doesn't want to play in Orlando, he's asking for trades to New Jersey and he's even staying one extra year to give the Magic a chance to build around him to make them a better team for a championship run.

He's letting his team know that he wants out, so that it won't be a huge shock when he leaves via free agency, which is something LeBron didn't do. 

It may sound like he's being a perfect little angel, but all of this Howard drama from this past season has been a burden for the Magic. It's a huge, unnecessary distraction that's preventing the team from focusing on their ultimate goal, which is to win a title. 

Even more drama has been building up in the last few days. Howard had reportedly asked for his head coach, Stan Van Gundy, to be fired recently.

Orlando has lost five in a row and is slowly reeling in the Eastern Conference standings, and Howard scored just eight points in a loss against the New York Knicks in his last game.  

When LeBron was a pending free agent, none of this was going on. LeBron vowed to finish his contract with the Cavs and then leave. There's absolutely nothing wrong with that. He finished his contract with Cleveland. On the other hand, Howard wants to dishonor his contract and dictate where he wants to play.

Seriously, who's the quitter? Who's the more arrogant jerk to their franchise?

Most people accuse LeBron of giving up on his team in Game 5, where he only scored 15 points on 3-of-14 shooting. But here's news to you, having a poor shooting night does not mean equal quitting. Kobe Bryant recently has fallen into atrocious shooting slumps at times.

Is he quitting?


So to answer the question about who the bigger quitter is, the answer is neither. Both are professional athletes, and every player has ups and downs. We can't infer too much about a normal slump. That being said, Howard is getting away with his actions far too easily from the media. If LeBron was doing what Dwight is doing right now in Orlando, we wouldn't hear the end of it.

Everyone has bad games, and sometimes, they're at the most inopportune times, especially when Anthony Parker and Mo Williams are your two best teammates. 

As far as who the more arrogant player is in terms of how they handled (or are handling) their free-agency situation, the answer is clearly Dwight Howard. 

LeBron James had every right to leave when he became a free agent in 2010. Was The Decision a little over the top?


That being said, it's a much better way to handle this sort of situation than being indecisive the way Howard has been lately. ESPN might have to air a one-hour special called The Indecision starring Dwight Howard. 

It'll feature D12 sitting on a chair and talking to Jim Gray about flip-flopping from one destination to another. There will also be a guest appearance by Brett Favre, who will ponder unretirement.

But I digress.

Orlando doesn't know what their future looks like, and this saga has been prolonged because of the fact that Howard is staying for another season. 

The organization doesn't want to deal with this anymore. They either want a commitment or a new direction. Dwight is wasting their time, and quite frankly, it's extremely selfish and arrogant. He's dictating where he wants to go while he's still under contract with the Orlando Magic. 

The most egotistical act from all of this is that he wants his coach fired, and he might not even be playing there in a few months. 

And people hate LeBron for calling himself, "King?"

It really seems like Howard's ego is 10 times bigger than LeBron's in this situation. He's crippling the Magic organization and leaving them in limbo. LeBron never did that. 

It's a bit hypocritical to bash LeBron for "taking his talents to South Beach" and calling that arrogant but simultaneously loving Dwight Howard. 

People wanted LeBron to handle his free-agency situation properly and tell his team that he wanted out. But it turns out, LeBron was the one handling it properly. He didn't force his organization, in the middle of his contract, to trade him and give them a wish list of places where he wants to play, thus limiting his team's chances of getting the best deal in return for Howard. 

Carmelo Anthony and Dwight Howard did do that, and in both cases, it was a huge mess for their respective teams. When Anthony was traded away from the Denver Nuggets, the team started to win more games because they were focused as a team on the task at hand. 

There's no doubt that the Magic's struggles are a result of the constant distractions that started from the Howard saga. How can you focus on basketball when the star player and the organization are not on the same page? It's impossible.

If LeBron does not give a child a high five while walking to the locker room, we'll probably see a headline about it. James has been unfairly criticized and undeservedly hated throughout the last few years. 

It makes no sense. He hasn't committed a crime. He honored his contract with Cleveland without trying to force his way out in the middle of the season, and the numbers show that he never quit on the Cavs. He gave them seven years, and they failed to surround him with help.

LeBron's departure allowed Cleveland to draft Kyrie Irving last season, and they're pretty much one player away from making the playoffs again.

In other words, people in Cleveland and all over the country were overreacting when they thought LeBron's departure would be the end of the Cavs franchise.

Howard, on the other hand, is going to put the Magic in a deep hole. He only wants to go to the New Jersey Nets, and that team doesn't have the pieces to make the Magic viable after the trade. 

He could've accepted a trade to Los Angeles, and the Magic would've had another star center in Andrew Bynum to build around. He won't even let his team decide where he should be traded, and that's extremely damaging for the future of the Magic because they're not going to get the best deal for themselves if they do that.

Luckily for them, they haven't, but they should be stronger as an organization and shop him around to different teams much like the Utah Jazz did when they traded Deron Williams.

Otherwise, they're handicapping themselves because of an egoist player who doesn't even want to play in Orlando.


    5 Players Who Should Be on the Trade Block Post-Draft

    NBA logo

    5 Players Who Should Be on the Trade Block Post-Draft

    Kelly Scaletta
    via Bleacher Report

    Ranking the NBA's Top 50 Free Agents

    Orlando Magic logo
    Orlando Magic

    Ranking the NBA's Top 50 Free Agents

    Adam Fromal
    via Bleacher Report

    NBA Draft's Biggest Steals and Reaches

    NBA logo

    NBA Draft's Biggest Steals and Reaches

    Grant Hughes
    via Bleacher Report

    Report: Billy Preston Signs with Cavs

    NBA logo

    Report: Billy Preston Signs with Cavs

    Alec Nathan
    via Bleacher Report