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Longing for the younger Dwight Howard

April 9, 2012

Maybe some people don’t get more mature with age

Dwight Howard and Stan Van Gundy just had the most awkward encounter since my most recent blind date. The SparkNotes version is that Van Gundy told reporters Howard had asked management that he be fired. Right as he finishes saying this, Howard walks up with that big smile on his face, and makes a joke to Van Gundy. SVG wants no part of this situation and leaves. Howard just walked into the lion’s den of reporters, and he’s wearing a meat suit.

This isn’t close to the first time Dwight has been in the news this season. You may remember his see-saw “I’m staying, I’m going” routine before the trade deadline, before finally signing his ETO to stay with the team through next season.

In this shortened NBA season, we’ve really gotten to see another side of Dwight Howard, and it isn’t pretty.

If you want a trade, you have to have the respect for the organization, your teammates and the fans to just ask for it. Don’t play coy and pretend like you don’t want out. Own up to it.

No one should ever fault somebody for wanting better teammates. In business you want better colleagues; it’s all the same thing. If the best are around you, you will have a better chance to succeed, no matter what you may be doing.

That’s why I have no problem with someone wanting out of a bad situation. But it would be nice if they did it wisely, without alienating their teammates and fans. The back and forth, the denials, no fan-base deserves this (except maybe those annoying Philly fans).

But this situation that the Magic is in doesn’t surprise me. There is always a star that wants out. What does surprise me is the player that is pulling the strings right now.

Dwight was like...

I never expected this nightmare from Dwight. He’s always so happy on the court, with his big smile and somewhat carefree attitude. He’s doing impressions, goofing around and just enjoying the game of basketball.

He’s been blasted for this in years past, by people believing that he doesn’t care about winning enough and he’s having too much fun on the court.

I never agreed with this idea. Howard played how I imagined I would play if I was lucky enough to make the NBA; like someone who truly loved the game and knew how blessed he was to be playing a sport for a living. He cared, but he just had a different way of showing it.

Now when I watch videos of his impressions today, it seems so empty. Like everything up to this was a lie. It didn’t seem like an act, but maybe it was. Dwight might not be the guy I thought he was.

...then he was like.

The way he’s acted, I’ve lost a lot of respect for him, not as a player but as a man. And maybe this is my issue, looking up to athletes as something more than a supremely talented ball player. But sport consumes so much of my life; I want to have more of a connection with these athletes.

But the more I try to connect with these guys, the more I get disappointed. The same thing happened with LeBron James two summers ago.

I didn’t hate LeBron’s decision. I hated The Decision. It didn’t matter where he went—although in all honesty I’d love for him to go to my favorite team, because he’s the best player in the league—it mattered how he went.

Just like it’s not always what you say, it’s how you say it, LeBron announced his destination incorrectly (and I don’t just mean the now infamous line “I’m taking my talents to South Beach,” although that was dumb too). He wanted fanfare surrounding him. He wanted to make it extravagant.

And now Dwight does too.

The thing that used to piss me off about Howard was that he blocked shots into the fifth row, instead of catching the ball or blocking it into the ground. But now, his on the court play is the least of his worries in my eyes.

I wish we could go back to the way it was with Dwight…I miss being mad at him for making athletic basketball plays.