In lieu of my standard quasi-daily NBA labor update, I’ll just say that this season is still screwed. The owners and players union are meeting with an independent mediator and the agents are completely poisoning this thing. But the superstars are still Tweeting away, Danny Granger is even buying arena employees one whole dinner, and the superstars are all showing up to meetings to at least pretend like they’re trying to get their teammates paid. Well, all of the superstars except for Dwight Howard, who has been MIA.
Fortunately, Esquire writer Scott Raab caught up with the NBA’s best big man, and he basically told him that his bags are packed and he’s leaving town, after a few months of posturing, pandering, and puppy kissing.
“There’s more you can do in a bigger place. I’m stuck in a tough position because I feel like right now, where I’m at, I’ve done so much.
“And I just don’t know what else I can do. I can’t live for everybody else. I don’t know what decision I’m gonna make as of right now. It’s been crazy. Everybody wants me to come here, come play here, come to our team, do this. It’s a great feeling, though, to be wanted.”
Raab, who apparently just met Howard, says, “You’re gone. I can feel it.”
Howard responds, “The toughest part for me is the city — the people. They’ve got burgers named after me in Orlando, they’ve got a Web site saying, “Please stay.” I love the people in the city. I’ve literally sat on the bench with a towel on my head crying, because I feel the passion in the stands. I just think about what’s going to be best for what I want to accomplish in my life. And I don’t want that door to close on me, wherever that door is. I don’t want it to close.”
(Via the Orlando Sentinel)
Normally, this is where I’d launch into a tirade about how Howard is even worse than LeBron James (regular readers know that I’m a butt hurt Magic homer), as Howard spent the summer on a goodwill tour through Orlando, culminating with a huge feature in ESPN the Magazine about how much he’s loved in his city and how much he loves it back. Hell, I wrote a column in a local magazine demanding that we rename one of the city’s oldest streets after him. Amazing how great that Kool-Aid tastes.
But the fact is that this is Magic GM Otis Smith’s fault because he took a bottomless checkbook and somehow managed to ruin a franchise’s immediate well-being. And we wonder why the NBA is in the shape that it is in. Howard could very well stay, but the truth is that this lockout is the greatest thing that could have ever happened to him. He’s not allowed to speak to the team’s executives, so he can claim that they never tried hard enough and we’ll grunt and groan, but the fans of the big market team that he signs with – as I’ve said since last season, he will be a Brooklyn Net – will love him louder than Orlando can cry.