Orlando Magic fans have seen this movie before. A dominant center shackled by missteps and some bad luck takes off for brighter lights and a bigger city. That did not work out well for them.
Now they’ve gotten a second chance. The most dominant center of our generation again resides in Orlando.
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.
SR: Just don’t do it as an hour-long ESPN special. Please.
DH: That’s not me.
Oh, welll I’m sure that makes the people of Orlando feel a lot better.
We’ll have to wait and see just how real this is. The CBA will play a role in whether Dwight really does go. If salaries are significantly reduced and he can’t get more than, say, $14 million from anyone, will he really opt out of the $19.5 million he’s due? And what if some sort of amnesty becomes part of the deal and the Magic can rid themselves of Gilbert Arenas or Hedo Turkoglu (or, if you’re being really optimistic, both)? And what if the Larry Bird exception changes, allowing the Magic more leverage in giving Dwight more money to stay?
There are too many variables in play for us to make a definite call on Dwight Howard. Under the old system, I’d say you should just put the Dwight jerseys on the clearance rack now. But under this new system, whatever it might be, Dwight might just have to reconsider.
And I use “reconsider” on purpose. Because it’s pretty clear that he’s got one foot out the door. The only thing you Magic fans can hope for now is such a radical change in the climate outside, that he changes his mind, pulls a 180, and comes back inside for a while.