At face value, the question seems simple: When the Orlando Magic take on the Houston Rockets, will you be booing Dwight Howard? How will you react to his video tribute?
If you are, then no one will blame you. The wounds of his flip-flopping indecision are still raw. His slow, torturous departure took the franchise from the NBA finals to the league’s worst record once he finally left. But the Magic have made the issue more complicated this evening.
In his only trip to the Amway Center this year, Dwight Howard will be receiving a video tribute to his time in Orlando. Talk about awkward. Are fans really supposed to flip the switch from vitriol to appreciation so suddenly? Remember the booing from the last time he was in town?
Not giving Dwight Howard a tribute video wasn’t really an option. The Magic have prepared tributes to all their former players still in the league including such luminaries as Gustavo Ayon, Courtney Lee, and Jason Richardson. It would be a huge slap in the face and equally awkward in its absence. If the Magic really wanted to avoid this situation with Howard they could have avoided giving videos to all active players. Too late now!
This video tribute should not be confused with the Legends Nights that have honored Penny Hardaway, Horace Grant, and others. Even though Dwight Howard is a bigger part of the Magic’s history and success than any other player, there have been no active legends, and there hasn’t been enough healing time anyway. But when the team turns the big 5-0, expect Howard to be featured front and center as long as we’re not all living on the moon by then.
And that’s the real reason booing Dwight Howard is complicated. Not because of a silly video but because he was a great player who brought the Magic their first run of sustained success. Yes he left the team on bad terms, but so did Penny, Shaq, and Tracy McGrady. Howard actually stayed longer and won more than they did. He leads the franchise in minutes played, points scored, blocks, and rebounds.
Can you really blame Dwight Howard for wanting out when the GM was Otis Smith? Once Rob Hennigan came on board the damage was already done, all that was left was the clean-up. He didn’t quit on the team like Vince Carter. He didn’t leave in free agency for nothing like LeBron James. His trade jump-started the current rebuild. I’m not saying we should give him credit for wanting a change, but his impatience and idiocy allowed the Magic to trade him instead of lose him for nothing.
If you want to cheer for Howard tomorrow, no one will blame you. You remember the good times and sigh in relief that he is someone else’s headache now. Maybe you aren’t a fan that boos. Maybe booing Dwight Howard would be a betrayal of your favorite Magic player. Whatever the reason, whatever the reaction, no one can blame you on this one.
Will you be booing Dwight Howard tonight? Let us know why or why not in the comments section below. Want more Magic? Sign up for our newsletter!