Dwight Howard On Orlando: “I Just Don’t Know What Else I Can Do”

For the November issue of Esquire, Scott Raab sat down with Dwight Howard during Fashion Week to talk about the lockout, fatherhood and being a brand. But the most salient topics the four-time All-NBA First Team member discussed was his impending free agency in Orlando and his problems with Magic head coach Stan Van Gundy. Let’s just say Magic fans have a lot more to worry about than just the lockout.

On Free Agency:

SR: Do you think that the drive to represent, on an iconic level, will be a factor in your free agency? Do you see yourself in a much larger market?
DH: 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.

SR: You’re gone. I can feel it.
DH: 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.

On Van Gundy:

SR: If I had a coach like Stan Van Gundy yelling at me all season, I would have slapped that guy silly a long time ago. What’s it like to have a guy constantly yelling at you with that voice?
DH: Stan’s a great guy away from basketball. He’s passionate. He loves the game. I have no problem with him off the court. The only thing I had a real problem with was the way he coached. It was very tough with Stan, because he yelled a lot, and I don’t want to be that guy to yell at my teammates along with my coach. Because they’re going to turn it all off. I had to find different ways to motivate my team. Sometimes when you have so much negativity, it’s really hard to be positive. I had a lot of negativity growing up, so I understand how to block the negativity out.

Wow. Well, two things come to mind after reading this interview:

1. Dwight Howard has convinced himself that no matter what the Magic organization does to help him win a championship, he needs a change of scenery.

2. If you say about your coach, “The only thing I had a real problem with was the way he coached,” you either just cost that man his job or got yourself traded.

Although they’re very different players, this situation eerily reminds me of LeBron‘s last days in Cleveland. First, LeBron basically convinced himself that he wasn’t going to be able to win a ring as the primary guy in Cleveland – no matter what the franchise did to try and change his mind. And as we saw with Mike Brown, despite winning games and making runs at a championship, the star player always wins out. Does this mean Van Gundy loses his job before this season begins? Not likely. But I would bet if they can’t get it together this season – if there is a season – that Van Gundy is gone before the Magic try and re-sign Dwight.

What do you think?

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