Dwight Howard turned Orlando into a bizarre game of truth or dare.
He dared the Magic to trade him and relinquish all rights to the 2012 and probably the 2013 NBA Playoffs.
He dared the Magic to jump on Stan Van Gundy’s side after he confirmed a report that Howard asked for SVG to be removed.
He’s now daring the Magic to keep SVG on as the head coach with reported threats of self-benching in the postseason.
Thus far, the Orlando Magic have cowered away from the wrong side of his demands to appease a player who has yet to develop any true post moves. At the beginning of the season, Los Angeles Lakers Andrew Bynum was a step behind Howard because fans gave him the benefit of experience and power.
Throw the dunk contest in there cloaked with a fancy red cape and you have the best center in the league.
Bynum also has shown eruptions of immaturity that could play into the hands of Lakers’ opponents. Pushing away from the table and digesting both centers’ 2011-12 season resume, the concise choice for No.1 would have to be Andrew Bynum.
I bet the Lakers are brimming with joy now that they realize a push for Howard would have only resulted in a cancerous personality in the locker room. Bynum can follow, which he is forced to do behind Kobe Bryant. Howard would have come in and demanded a franchise metamorphosis.
Neither Jim Buss nor Bryant would have taken too well to forced hands.
Howard could have turned the season around after signing paperwork that cancelled out his ETO (Early Termination Option). He could have turned to his teammates with an air of relief and promised them his all for the remainder of the season.
Things could have been well and forgotten until the Magic were booted in the playoffs when the fingers could have gone back to being pointed. During the regular season when games still count, however, Howard is becoming one of the worst personalities in NBA history.
With his independent motives shone brightly through the cameras with every question a media member asks Howard, the general concern of winning has become an afterthought.
Howard wants things in Orlando run his way, and the franchise is becoming entirely too complacent with allowing the talent to dictate each executive movement, starting with the removal of SVG.
It is a turn of tides that Howard is not prepared for. LeBron James faced a similar widespread backlash after "The Decision," and he needed to prove his career would merit such disdain. With an MVP season possibly on the rise and a striking path to the NBA Finals and a potential victory, James is doing everything in his power to hold up his end of the deal.
Howard is going to face the exact same fate. What if Orlando actually does remove SVG from the Magic franchise? What if they replace him with a coach of excellent caliber?
The burden of proof will lie in Howard’s lap. If he continues to fail to lead his team to a championship, the true err will have been exposed. It will have been proven that it was Howard’s lack of talent all along. Do not consider his raw athleticism talent.
Talent includes the development of a postgame, solid shooting (including free throws), etc. Right now, Howard has been in the league since the summer of 2004 and is still playing at Blake Griffin’s level, a second-year player who also plays above the rim.
Howard is a one-dimensional player, just like Griffin, who has failed to strengthen his game and rides on the failures of those surrounding him to disguise his bad behavior. This entire season has been an exhibition of Howard’s bad behavior.
Howard’s character is beyond questionable at this point and it is solely his doing. Remember the quote when he decided to sign the paperwork cancelling his ETO?
"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. I'm sorry from the bottom of my heart. I will do whatever I can to make this right and do what I was put in Orlando to do."
Howard can no longer blame what he has caused Orlando on bad advice unless his agent is advising him to request Van Gundy’s departure or sit out in the postseason. He is in control of his own destiny in Orlando, and he is taking absolute advantage of it in the worst way.
What do you expect? If a franchise buckles like the Magic have, what else is there for a player like Howard to do?
The Orlando star is becoming the ringleader of the worst turn of events I have seen in a long time within a franchise. It’s no Kobe-Shaq beef, but it is increasingly dysfunctional, kind of like those daytime soap operas.
Dwight Howard is officially a villain and that crisp, white smile doesn’t change that. He played into this role, and he must accept all guidelines that come with it. In the same interview as earlier, Howard chose some apt words to say.
"This has been a very hard time," Howard said. "For me, my family and all of us. The fans deserve a better hero and I will make that happen. I love and appreciate my fans and this city."
The fans do deserve a better hero. So far that man is nowhere in sight.