Dwight Howard is a man-child and a diva. His actions this past season have proven this, and have left a sour taste in the mouth of most NBA observers, myself included. His indecision and lack of professionalism have brought the Orlando Magic franchise to its knees, and despite his decision to opt-in to the final year of his contract I doubt he will remain with the Magic past next season (if they do not decide to trade him first).
When it was discovered last week that Howard had a herniated disk in his back and was going to miss some games, the timing seemed extremely beneficial to Dwight. His coach, Stan Van Gundy, had just revealed (in hilarious fashion) that, despite showing questionable allegiance to the Magic all year, Howard had repeatedly gone to management and asked for Van Gundy to be fired. Dwight had been denying this for weeks, and in fact had been pretending to be best buddies with Van Gundy in media sessions (Van Gundy reluctantly having to go along with it). When the media revealed to Dwight that it had been Van Gundy himself who had confirmed the rumours, the look of confusion on Howard’s face was absolutely priceless. Dwight’s ill-gotten reputation as the “good guy” face of the Magic has been destroyed, and the whole world now knows that, in truth, he’s backstabbing and conniving. So it was interesting, if not a little bit too convenient (in my opinion), that it was subsequently discovered that Howard would need time away from the team to deal with a mysterious back ailment.
(here’s the described presser/most awkward media scrum ever)
I doubt that Howard initially understood the severity of his injury; there had been talk of him possibly returning to the Magic for the playoffs. But, rather than trying his best to rehab and make it back to help his team (and entertain the fans who pay his exorbitant salary), Howard took his injury as just another chance to hold the franchise hostage.
Sources say that Howard called Magic ownership (in the middle of a game!) and told them that he would return to the team only if Van Gundy was fired: it appeared that Dwight, ever a baby, couldn’t handle the public evisceration Van Gundy had leveled him with.
To be honest, I do not really understand the naiveté of Howard here: Van Gundy seems to me to be a very good coach, and although he can be a bit abrasive, I doubt the Magic can do much better than him. Does Howard really think a different coach will fare better? No, much more realistically this is just Howard building up more and more excuses for when he eventually leaves the franchise (I can already picture the ESPN special: “I would have stayed if they’d gotten a better coach”).
All this being said, you’ll have to forgive me if I feel some schadenfreude now that it turns out Howard will miss six months recovering from back surgery (note: I do not wish harm on Dwight, I am only stating the irony and karmic nature of his condition). Earlier in the Magic circus (err, season) Dwight had refused to sign a long-term contract with the Magic; it was presumed that he wanted to opt-out of the final year of his contract (next season) and sign in a marquee destination in the off-season. In doing so, he forfeited his right to a guaranteed boatload of money, and took the risk that a severe injury could de-rail his chances of attaining the largest contract possible next off-season.
Well, that injury has happened…maybe. While the six month recovery period for this type of surgery is by no means concerning for Howard (he will be ready for the start of next season, wherever he is playing), the history of other players’ recovery from this surgery is. David Robinson, former San Antonio Spurs star and one of the greatest players ever, was never the same after undergoing surgery for a herniated disk in his back. The same goes for Larry Johnson, formerly of the Charlotte Hornets. Most importantly for Howard, both of those guys were built like tanks, just like him. If this surgery and the subsequent recovery have any impact on Dwight’s athletic ability (like they did to Robinson and Johnson) then his game will never be the same since he has shown very little ability to develop any sort of reliable post game. If this happens, Dwight can kiss at least a portion of his millions goodbye.
Dwight Howard has been an unmitigated asshole for some time now. His arrogance and childishness have been something to behold, and the circus that he has allowed to unfold in Orlando all season has been shameful. I don’t usually subscribe to any sort of karmic belief system, but I can’t help but smirk at the fact that Dwight’s diva behaviour could lead to his losing millions of dollars (not to mention the loss of respect that has already occurred). If it is true that you reap what you sow, then Dwight’s future harvest might be less bountiful than he’d hoped.
Written by Matthew Davie