Dwight Howard recently came out with a message of public appreciation for the city of Orlando taking out a full page ad in the Orlando sentinel saying: “words cannot express the love that I have for Orlando. With your support we have done great things in this city from hanging banners to impacting our youth”. This has been the latest in a string of public displays of appreciation for NBA players’ former cities. It beckons the question—Does this really have any impact on the people of Orlando and fans of the NBA?
Some liken a player demanding a trade to a breakup. The relationship no longer works for the player, and thus he is requesting to leave the team. The team and its supporters feel a sense of betrayal, as one of their own feels as though the city and team no longer suit the players’ interests. If they truly ‘love’ the team, then why would they leave? Is love not enough or is the person lying? These are questions both young people of our generation and NBA fans must grapple with, bouncing from team to team (or relationship to relationship) in a quest to find answers.
If Dwight Howard really did love his fans and the city of Orlando, then does this public acknowledgement help anything? The very public ‘but I still love you’ can only mean so much when his actions say the exact opposite. I still root for James Posey, Eddie House, or even Ray-Ray because of the time and energy they put in with the Celtics organization. While they were here they gave the Celtics faithful everything, which for me is the ultimate sign of respect. Did Dwight Howard give his all during his final years in the Orlando uniform? Hard to say, but my magic (pun intended) 8 ball keeps on giving me a ‘no’ response. If I am an Orlando fan, I am done with Dwight Howard. Not only did he break up with Orlando, he toyed with their emotions. He gave them the ‘maybe we should take a break’ when he refused to sign an extension. He then proceeded to lead them on with a ‘I think we can make this work’ by agreeing to a one year extension. Lastly, a ‘we need to see other people’ with his trade demand and eventual change of scenery to the Los Angeles Lakers. Much like real breakups, it would have been better for both sides if D12 was decisive.
Howard obviously takes the emotions of his fans back in Orlando very seriously and for that he deserves credit. It’s a nice gesture but for fans of the Magic, it seems like too little too late. He should have shown his appreciation for the team and the fans by giving it his all when he was playing in Orlando. Taking out an advertisement thanking the Orlando faithful is a nice gesture, but I’m sure they would have appreciated it more if he gave his final seasons in a Magic uniform his all. The biggest show of respect to the people who support you is working your hardest and reaching your full potential, and this is where Dwight Howard fell short.