The Dwight Howard saga took another turn Monday when Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel reported Dwight Howard’s preference is to remain with the Orlando Magic:
“I’m not trying to run behind nobody like Shaq or be behind somebody else,” Howard said, referencing Shaquille O’Neal’s decision to leave the Magic for the Los Angeles Lakers via free agency following the 1995-96 season.
“I want to start my own path and I want people to follow my path and not just follow somebody else’s path. I want to have my own path, and I want to start that here in Orlando. But I can’t do it alone. Not only do I need the right teammates, but I need the city behind me. That’s the only way it’s going to get done. We can change this small city that we have — this small market that we have — and we can make it a big market.”
This shouldn’t really surprise anyone – Howard has never liked the Shaq comparisons and would love to be the guy who was the first person to bring a title to a sometimes troubled franchise like the Magic. I even touched on this on the air Sunday morning.
I really don’t think Howard has ever wanted to leave – and clearly, no one tied to the Magic organization wants him to even entertain the thought. Of course, Howard’s number one priority isn’t to be known as the best defensive player of all-time (which he has a chance to do) or win an MVP award (he finished second this season), but to win a championship.
And of course, as everyone has said over and over again, it’s going to be hard for Howard to do that with the current makeup of the Magic. However, Howard still seems confident in his team’s ability. Whether that’s because he respects his teammates or believes the front office has a few moves up their sleeves is unknown.
No matter the reason, Howard is still signed through the 2011-12 season (well through the 2012-13 season, but he has an Early Termination Option after next season) and plans to spend that season with the Magic.
(Andrew Melnick is Howard the Dunk’s lead blogger, ESPN 1080′s Magic Insider (http://espn1080.com) and is the co-host of the ESPN1080.com Insiders Show Sunday mornings at 10:00 am EST. Subscribe to his RSS feed, add him on Facebook and follow him on Twitter to follow him daily. You can download the HTD app here).