By SHAWN MCFARLAND
"He is like LeBron James Jr., but worse."
Up until about two weeks ago, that was the phrase I used to describe the Orlando Magic's Dwight Howard.
Since then things have only gotten worse for the Magic and their fan base. So much so that I think Howard might be making a run at the award currently owned by John Edward. For those who have no idea what I am talking about, search South Park episode 615 and enjoy.
I have been an Orlando Magic fan since the early-to-mid 1990s. Anfernee 'Penny' Hardaway was my favorite player growing up. Some of it had to do with Lil' Penny and their Nike commercials. Part of it was his point-forward game that allowed him to shoot and slash at will. Of course, the Magic having a young and dominate Shaq Daddy didn't hurt either.
When Shaq left Orlando for Los Angeles I felt betrayed. How did it happen? Whose fault was it that the situation had come to this? I was too young to know what had happened. Plus SportsCenter didn't run literally 24 hours at the time.
A few months ago I was in denial about Howard wanting to be traded. It was happening again. The best center in the league was once again leaving my team. I wanted the Magic to do anything and everything in order to make him stay. I even went as far as messaging him on twitter and telling him that he needed to stay in the Magic Kingdom.
From that time until now, my world has completely reversed. I have since sent him another twitter message. However, this one said to do whatever it took to ensure that he would never come back Orlando. Who knows if he got it, but isn't that what twitter is for?
Look what has happened the time since Howard's first (denied) trade request. All he did was complain publically about the team's make-up, attempt to and succeed in getting the franchise's winningest coach fired, not join in-game huddles on national television, nearly get into a fight with someone his 'best friend,' and allegedly accuse management of blackmailing him into singing a contract extension.
With that, I say that I am sorry LeBron. I am sorry for lumping you into the same group as this baby. While I did lose some respect for you with the way you went about leaving Cleveland, and the fact that winning just one title in that city would have made you a God forever, at least you didn't do everything in your power to throw a potentially title-contending team into the rebuilding process. You may have inadvertently thrown the Cavs into a rebuilding stage, and cop out of proving you can win a title by yourself (cough, Howard, cough), but at least you left without tarnishing your image as a grown man.
LeBron didn't say anything during his last year in Cleveland. He said he would talk about his free agency after the season and went about his business. He didn't throw his coach and general manager under the bus. He didn't demand a trade. He didn't flip-flop about his future and cry to the point where his teammates wanted to fight him.
Howard, on the other hand, said he wanted out of Orlando during the middle of the season. Then he denied that publically and said that he wanted to stay. Then he said behind closed doors – which eventually became public – that he still wanted out.
Then, during the stretch run of the regular season, he has the most awkward press conference in sports history. I respect Stan Van Gundy for coming out and saying that he knew Howard wanted him fired. He was tired of the BS. Then Howard walks over, not knowing what the heck is going on, and puts on a performance that has him nominated for this year's award.
As if it things weren't already going downhill, after that it was like riding a slip-n-slide down Mount Everest. Coincidentally, Howard's back starting hurting a few weeks later and was out for the season. They say he had surgery, but who knows. I don't believe anything he says anymore.
Then a report surfaced a few days ago that he and Jameer Nelson had to be separated in practice toward the end of the year. If Nelson, the one who used to do everything with Howard, wants to punch his lights out – then you know things had to have gotten pretty bad.
As a sports enthusiast and Magic fan, I am personally sick of hearing about Howard. The player who I once viewed as one of my favorites has become the player I despise the most. Not for wanting to leave, but for going about it the way he did and being a beep-ing beep. I hope he gets traded to the Wizards or the Bobcats.
That way he can really see what it is like to have 'no one around him.'