The only thing that bothers me more than another Dwight Howard rumor is when people compare him and the uncertainty of his whereabouts next season with the Made-for-TV drama created by LeBron James in the summer of his now-infamous Decision.
The daily rumors surrounding Howard are both real and laughable at this point. It's clear the Orlando Magic have done a botch job at handling the situation for letting it drag on for well over a year now. Regardless of the fact that he re-signed for one year last summer, a decision should've been made already.
But to that point: In what should've been a year filled with promise and trades for viable talent to convince Howard to stay instead turned in to the most dysfunctional season in the history of the franchise. The team should've brought in players to show their franchise center that they're committed to keeping him and surround him with the kind of talent needed to become the best team in Florida and the best in the NBA.
Instead, the only silver lining to last season was the emergence of Ryan Anderson, who, not surprisingly, won the NBA's Most Improved Player of the Year.
The team's current drama with Howard is just another example of how close they've been to imploding ever since the days of Howard and Stan "Ron Jeremy" Van Gundy going at it. Lets hope Rob Hennigan, the new 30-year-old general manager brought over for his success as the assistant GM of the Oklahoma City Thunder, can restore some stability before training camp begins in a few months.
One example of how LeBron's situation in Cleveland was different than the stuff we're seeing out of Orlando is the effort the Cleveland Cavaliers made in trying to keep him. For all we knew at the time, the "King" could've been planning on re-signing with the Cavs.
The fact that no one knew until the entire country found out what LeBron would do is another point I'll make in a second. But to Cavs owner Dan "Comic Sans" Gilbert's credit, the team brought in Shaq and Antawn Jamison to try to keep LeBron.
Were those signings laughable? Of course. Everyone knew Shaq was a few years away from retirement. And Jamison, as much as I love him, is not a proven winner.
But the Cavs tried to do something. It was a pretty lame effort, but they tried.
The Magic have done nothing and, if anything, allowed last season, which was crucial to showing their franchise center some love and respect, to turn into a reality TV show.
Now, as we seem to be in the final days of Howard's time in Orlando, the rumors are only getting worse.
Ultimately, it'll reflect poorly on the Magic as a franchise when, someday, they find themselves trying to court a marquee player by proving how successful of a franchise they've been in the past. Yeah, right.
The truth is they've lost two of the most dominant centers in the last 20 years. With Shaq, I don't blame the Magic. He was a free agent and with his personality, there was no stopping him from heading to Hollywood and the bright lights of Los Angeles.
But Howard's situation is different. Shaq went west after four years in Florida. Howard has been in Orlando for eight seasons now, twice as long as Shaq. There was every indication Howard wanted to stay, that is, until things took a turn for the worse two years ago when the team did nothing to bring the Magic back into the picture as a title contender. It's no wonder Howard wanted to leave.
But in more recent times, Howard has been completely transparent about what he wants to do right down to the very team he wants to play for.
And that, folks, is the fundamental difference between him and LeBron. It's the crux of what bothers me when people compare Dwight's drama to the kind of stuff we saw LeBron pull on national television.
Howard told the Magic this off-season that he only wants to play for the Brooklyn Nets. That's it.
Did it put the Magic in a tough spot? Absolutely. But it's still a players league and ultimately, the superstar is going to play where he wants to play.
If anything, Howard's situation more closely resembles the "melo-drama" that surrounded Carmelo Anthony when he expressed an interest in only playing for the Knicks. The Nuggets handled it brilliantly, realizing that teams aren't going to give up a ton of assets for a one-year rental on Carmelo only to watch him sign with the Knicks.
So Denver dealt with the reality and negotiated rather amazingly with New York. They made the Knicks give up the farm and Denver turned out with a pretty nice team that is arguably better than what what the Knicks have now.
LeBron left everyone in the dark. You and I found out at the same time that Dan Gilbert and the Cavs found out. There's something wrong about that.
To his credit, that Decision turned out to be the second most-watched television program of the year behind the Super Bowl. Did LeBron have every right to leave? Absolutely.
And as a side note, I think the hatred that was directed towards LeBron should instead be directed towards Ray Allen for pulling a way more dishonorable move by signing with the very team that knocked his squad out of the Eastern Conference Finals in seven games a month earlier.
But to this day, to this very hour, the Magic seem keen on entertaining offers from Los Angeles, Houston, Atlanta...you name it. They're wasting their time. And those teams are stupid for trying to give up so much just to have Howard for one season. Can anyone really picture Atlanta and Houston being the team for Howard for the rest of his career? Didn't think so.
If a franchise player says there's only one team he wants to play for and goes so far as to actually tell the general manager the specific team that he wants, you're left with no other decision than to heed his call. Any team but the Nets that lands him will regret it when he becomes a free agent next summer. For the Magic, the choice has been clear all along: get whatever you can from the Brooklyn Nets, or let Howard walk and get nothing in return.
One thing is for sure: Orlando is definitely full of magic. They're about to watch their franchise center disappear for virtually nothing in return. Again.
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