Dwight Howard has become a bigger meanie than LeBron

He's all smiles. The city named on his jersey is less sunny. (AJC photo by Curtis Compton)

He's all smiles. The city named on his jersey is less sunny. (AJC photo by Curtis Compton)

This could all be moot within an hour of its writing, but here goes: What happens if Dwight Howard doesn’t get traded?

Mike Bianchi of the Orlando Sentinel believes the thought of Howard actually playing for the Magic in 2012-13 “would be like LeBron making ‘The Decision’ and then having to go play another season in Cleveland.” But the way Howard is heading, any LeBron James comparison becomes increasingly inapt.

LeBron never demanded to be traded. LeBron never handed the Cavaliers a list of desired destinations. (Apparently Howard’s list begins and ends with Brooklyn.) More to the point, LeBron never prolonged any civic agony by waiving his option to become a free agent. Howard did that in March, and nobody could believe it. Today it ranks as the strangest decision ever made by a major player regarding his career.

All Howard had to do was let his contract expire and he’d have officially become a Net as of Wednesday. Instead the Dwightmare, as it’s known, continues. The Houston Rockets and Los Angeles Lakers are in there pitching, and the retooling-on-the-fly Hawks have sniffed around. The first two might be willing to take Howard without an assurance that he’ll re-up with them long-term; the team based in his hometown — that’d be the Hawks — surely could not.

The Magic can’t let Howard walk away and get nothing in return, so they’re bound to try and trade him. But what if no deal is struck before the season begins? The prospect of Howard playing another game for Orlando in Orlando is so unthinkable the NBA might have to step in and stop it. Stars get booed on the road, but at home?

But Orlando already views him as a traitor, and he hasn’t yet switched sides. His whining is the reason the Magic have a new general manager (feel sorry for Rob Henningan, who inherited this mess) and, at the moment, no head coach. For most of his career Howard labored to become the genial focal point of a city that has no other major sports team, but when he leaves he’ll be remembered in Orlando as LeBron South.

With this difference: LeBron James broke Cleveland’s collective heart, but he did it cleanly. (One choreographed special, one “I’m-taking-my-talents” declaration, one massive Ohio bringdown.) Dwight Howard has turned this into the saga that twists and turns but never concludes, and Orlando has long known it can only end in tears. We in Atlanta have seen more than our share of frazzled sports moments, but we’ve never had anything like this. I’m not sure any city has.

Oh, and one thing more. Dwight Howard? As a player, he’s overrated.

By Mark Bradley

129 comments Add your comment

SS

July 12th, 2012
1:16 pm

Spyro

July 12th, 2012
1:16 pm

Mark Bradley

July 12th, 2012
1:16 pm

moboman

July 12th, 2012
1:18 pm

moboman

July 12th, 2012
1:19 pm

Why would he possibly exercise his option. Was there any advantage to him to do so?

outkasted

July 12th, 2012
1:21 pm

I totally agree, he’s overrated… been in the league 7yrs and just now beginning to show a semblance of a post game….

moboman

July 12th, 2012
1:22 pm

Only possible reason is he felt he owed the Magic the chance to get something for him?

Mark Bradley

July 12th, 2012
1:28 pm

After deciding not to opt out, Howard said was “all in” for Orlando. Three-plus months later he said he wanted to be traded to Brooklyn.

HawkKingBibby

July 12th, 2012
1:29 pm

Lebron is overated as well. If it wasnt for the refs putting the Stern to OKC in games 2 and 3 Miami wouldnt have won a title. Lebron basically barrells to the hoop and gets alot of calls that should be charges. Lebron and Wade both have a license to foul at will on defense.

I think both Lebron and Howard are self centered ego maniacs. Lebron is much worse though. Everybody loves Superman ( well except Lex L. ) but nobody loves a King. I still remember a Hawks game starting late AT PHILLIPS because Lebron had to blow out the candles on his birthday cake and take pictures with his Cav teamates. I remeber all his dancing and fake picture taking when the Cavs were blowing us out in the playoffs. I remeber how he could run over our players to score and assault our players to steal the ball from them and nothing ever got called. I think he had 1 foul called on him in the 1st 3 games of that series. I couldnt stand him before the decision.

Hill crusher

July 12th, 2012
1:30 pm

When we first made the Joe Johnson/Marvin Williams, I was super excited to have our on big three with Dwight as the big man. Yet, the more I read about this guy the more I dislike him. I not sure we should go after any more because he will ditch us the first chance he gets. At the same time I don’t believe CP3 will come here without him. I’m glad we have Danny Ferry instead of me making these decisions.

Magic Fan

July 12th, 2012
1:31 pm

I wholeheartedly agree. I actually do understand wanting to “take your talents” wherever you feel they can be best used, but to put the Magic organization and its loyal fans through this is just shameful. I remember as a kid booing Shaquille O’Neal whenever he’d come to town but at least he didn’t play the silly games Dwight has been. Dwight has proved that if you try to please everyone you’ll please no one and he looks like a complete meanie/idiot now.

scott

July 12th, 2012
1:32 pm

If Howard was a baseball player, we’d describe him as a five-tool athlete. He is almost without peer in regard to the completeness of his skillset.

That said, he is also a whiny child. He reminds me a bit of Mutumbo, who bitched and moaned about every single foul call.

Barkley said on TNT during the Hawks’ playoff series with the Magic that Howard would get no respect from players around the league if his pissy behavior continued. I have seen nothing since that time to convince me that he has matured beyond the whiny, prep-school spoiled brat that he appears to be . . .what a shame. I dont want him.

tc

July 12th, 2012
1:33 pm

I think Orlando should not cave on this and tell him to9 get ready for another season in orlando or agree to re up with any team we want to trade you too. Orlando has some leverage, I hope they use it!

scott

July 12th, 2012
1:35 pm

One caveat–you are right Mark, he’s not much of a free-throw shooter . . . but he does have a few moves around the basket. Let’s call him a four-tool athlete.

scott

July 12th, 2012
1:35 pm

He is a tool, regardless!

tc

July 12th, 2012
1:37 pm

I don’t know that we want him in Atlanta. I like what Ferry has done so far. I am evem ok if the team is not quite as good as last season. I feel like we are moving in the right direction. It is really hard to find anything that Ferry has done so far, not a reasonable move. I like it!

Ace

July 12th, 2012
1:55 pm

Mark,
You said that he was overrated, but if you are the Hawks GM, would you take?

Glenn

July 12th, 2012
1:55 pm

Orlando ownership blackmailed him : ( My thing is he screwed this up so bad I would have to think he will be on his best behavior after this debacle of a situation but then again the whole NBA has inquired about him so maybe he shouldn’t feel bad . Funny Andrew Bynum said he might sign with Cleveland over Orlando if the Magic traded for him . I think thats almost as big a kick in the rear for Orlando .

Ace

July 12th, 2012
1:56 pm

Sorry about that. Would you take him?

Hankie Aron

July 12th, 2012
2:00 pm

tc- not quite as good as last season??. As currently constructed the Hawks would be lucky to finish .500. You sound like your’e going to be crying when the Hawks win only 35 games next year

Say It Aint So

July 12th, 2012
2:01 pm

HKB, hate all you want, that’s the NBA MVP. Nuff said.
I can’t understand why a kid born and raised in Atlanta doesn’t want to come home and play for the hometown team that has a new GM and is now moving in the right direction. Why not help change the culture of the Hawks and make the franchise attractive to other players and make it easy on your family to see you play at home. There has to be another reason that he doesn’t want to play here.

Dr. Warren

July 12th, 2012
2:03 pm

Just like Lebron was an immature 25-year-old, Dwight Howard is just an immature 26-year-old. He was brought up in a more stable and educated environment, but his enablers and sycophants probably have eroded some of the influence of that upbringing. And look—people forget how young these athletes are—what 26-year -olds who you know are making $100 million demands and decisions? The angst and nuttiness and narcissism should not be surprising at all. For so many of these kids, it is predictable.

Hankie Aron

July 12th, 2012
2:03 pm

Mark- Love your blogs as always. I am beginning to think the only way the Hawks get better than they were the last 3 years is through the lottery. Hopefully we pick the Chris Paul dynamic player instead of the lengthy Marvin Williams

Dirty Dawg

July 12th, 2012
2:08 pm

When Howard and Josh Smith were coming out of high school it was widely understood that Josh was a petulant punk and Howard a level-headed, can’t-miss, talent. Given the passage of time, along with tons of money, and all things ultimately even out. Now they’re both petulant punks with a lot of money. Oh yeah, and the other thing they have in common is I’ll never spend a penny to watch em play.

Dr. Warren

July 12th, 2012
2:13 pm

@Say It Ain’t So—This kid is not leadership material. That’s why he can’t see coming home as a golden opportunity. Great leaders and transcendent players leap at the chance to alter history or change the status quo. Dwight Howard is probably just too limited to grasp what a legend he could be if he could rescue a mediocre franchise from perpetual Purgatory and bring Atlanta its 2nd major sport championship.

Mark Bradley

July 12th, 2012
2:16 pm

I wouldn’t take Dwight Howard as a rental if it meant giving up Al Horford.

Hankie Aron

July 12th, 2012
2:17 pm

Dr. Warren- I think Ferry and the Hawks are just trying to become relevant again after this teardown and then maybe 2 or 3 years down the road contend for that championship.

Sammy Hagfart

July 12th, 2012
2:18 pm

Dwigt is the NBAs best center by far. U a playa hayer Mark.

Hankie Aron

July 12th, 2012
2:19 pm

Agreed MB- I think that is the sticking point with the Hawks. The cupboard would be bare if Howard and Josh Smith both left after next year and Horford would be in Orlando. Basically a Mark Texieria kind of rental trade.

Sammy Hagfart

July 12th, 2012
2:22 pm

He scores 25 grabs 20 rebounds a game and shuts down the paint on defense. Dwight Howards a beast.

Mike S.

July 12th, 2012
2:24 pm

Your right, Mark. This is far worse than Lebron. If the worse thing Lebron ever does is raise millions for the Boys n Girls club while on his way out of Cleveland, then he’s a saint compared to most athletes we celebrated…and he’s so far above what Howard is doing there can be no comparison. With Lebron, people wanted to tell him he had to stay and win Cleveland a championship to be legit. When he didnt, they all dumped on him. That’s the bottom line. He saw what no one was willing to see…a capped out team with no relief insight other than rebuilding. Sound familiar Hawks fans?

Say It Aint So

July 12th, 2012
2:26 pm

Both Josh and Dwight entered the NBA out of highschool. They also played together for the Atl Celtecs along with Javaris Crittion, Randolph Morris, Reshard Chase and Deandre Bray. Talk about a group.

Sammy Hagfart

July 12th, 2012
2:26 pm

Hawks have 6 guards.

Dr. Warren

July 12th, 2012
2:26 pm

@Hankie Aaron—-I didn’t mean he had to lead them to the Promised Land this season. Of course it would take some time. But my point is—being able to do so (eventually) in his championship starved hometown would make his career more special.

HawksFanSince'89

July 12th, 2012
2:27 pm

@Mark Bradley, I wouldn’t make the Howard-Horford deal neither, it’s like trading your reliable Lexus for a rental Benz. Honestly, it’s almost to the point, where as, Dwight indecisive and flip-floping, passive-aggressive tactics, outweighs giving up any solid star player that you have on your team to trade for him.

moorman

July 12th, 2012
2:33 pm

yeah. starting to see what you mean. dwight is suffering from the SAME disease that lebron is afflicted with: THE NBA HYPING you up thru their marketing and you become spoiled. Really, look at this: howard was SURROUNDED by shooters a couple years ago and couldnt get it done. The ONLY reason i believe he COULD win a championship in atlanta is because if you pair him with josh smith, the hawks would have a monster interior defense. In other words, dwight isnt all that without the PROPER help. Would i still pull the strings were i the hawks and dumb horford for him. SURE WOULD, for the reason i just stated. we can REPLACE what horford brings. shoot, howard does BY HIMSELF……….

Say It Aint So

July 12th, 2012
2:48 pm

A front court of Josh and Dwight would be down right “old school” defensively, any pcs around them would make the Hawks a dangerous foe.

moorman

July 12th, 2012
2:48 pm

dr warren. you hit the nail on the head. howard, being young and stupid, THINKS the glory is being up in new york on the national stage. he would become a herschel walker if he came to the hawks and took them to their first championship. its more honor in that then to be a two face traitor like he is…………stupid…….

Mike S.

July 12th, 2012
2:51 pm

As for Howard, he is dangerously close to being classified as the NBA’s version of Randy Moss or Terrell Owens. He needs to shut his mouth, and get back to work. Play this year out with a passion for the game without causing any more heartache. Then he can go to free agency next summer where there will be solid options. Dallas for one is going to have plenty of cap space.

Banshee29

July 12th, 2012
2:53 pm

Mark, if we trade Horford we are done for more than a few years…he is the only consistent man we have on the team. Smoove will be exiting stage left very shortly as well, and we will be back to the Smitty is our superstar days.

chuck

July 12th, 2012
2:53 pm

I think Dwight is a cancer and I wouldn’t take him under any conditions. Trade Josh for a SF, resign the centers and play Horford at PF, and rebuild the rest thru the draft. IF Ferry had been our GM when we last tried to rebuild, we would be playing in the finals every year. No way he wastes draft picks on the Williams guys.

LawDawg

July 12th, 2012
2:54 pm

Can we all stop talking about this mentally-infirm, overrated narcissist?

Mike S.

July 12th, 2012
2:55 pm

Howard is still the NBA’s best center. There just isnt one in the league that can compare to overall. I sill wouldnt rent him for a year though. That will come at too high a price. I think some fans are dreaming that Howard will sign and trade next year, especially the Nets. Unfortunately the Nets wont have anything better to offer then than they do now which Orlando doesnt want.

IceColdATLien

July 12th, 2012
2:57 pm

I’m very curious why Josh can’t effectively recruit the best man from his own wedding to play together in their own hometown. Can you imagine how much the city would rally behind two hometown guys and a new GM who could then be one piece away from ATL having its own big 3? They would own this town like DRose does in Chicago… except there’s TWO of them!

I don’t see why not taking a risk for a year. If Dwight leaves and Josh leaves, then we basically will have more free cap space than any team in history, and then Ferry gets to build his own ship from the ground up (don’t forget that six-yr deal he has). It’s an aggressive move that would light this town up for at least a year… and I think once Dwight and Josh experience that, they’ll want to stay and become recruiters themselves.

(Wow, do I exist in a fantasy world or what?!)

vanomania

July 12th, 2012
2:58 pm

Wouldn’t we still be able to sign-and-trade him away next year if he isn’t willing to stay long-term? That would alleviate the concern that we’d risk losing him for nothing

GTanner

July 12th, 2012
3:00 pm

They should’ve taken the Nets offer. Brooklyn had the stronger fallback position, ie Brook Lopez and were offering a lot.

IceColdATLien

July 12th, 2012
3:05 pm

I really don’t see why Ferry shouldn’t just roll the dice with Dwight and Josh and let them go crazy for one year. They’d both realize that they’re only one other star away from their own “big three” in their own hometown, and that they would own the ATL like Vick once did. Then they’ll stay, Ferry will get that third star, and this will be one of the best teams in the league. Ferry knows what he’s doing.

(Wow, I really do live in a dreamworld, huh?)

Glenn

July 12th, 2012
3:07 pm

I can’t believe know one has mentioned is that more than Dwight looking like a selfish creep is how badly Orlando has looked as a franchise . Orlando has so many bad contracts on the books they are going to be a mess for awhile . Orlando needs someone to take players like Hedo & Jrich as much as they need to bring in talent . I think the Magic did SVG a favor . He will end up in a better short term situation atleast .

HawksFanSince'89

July 12th, 2012
3:09 pm

At least, Lebron makes a decision and sticks with it, good or bad, Dwight says he wants to stay one minute and says he wants to leave the next, and he does this to look like the “good guy”, which is worst than Lebron, at least with Lebron, you know what your getting, and he doesn’t put up a front.

moorman

July 12th, 2012
3:10 pm

icecoldatlien………..thats my thinking as well. people think howard is overrated. well. he can block shots and SCORE better than mutumbo did. the OVERRATED player is horford. Overrated in the sense that we CAN do without his game. Look what happened this year. Smith carried the team while horford was out. Horford gets soooo much of a passs because he played on a “intelligent” florida team. I would ship horford and teague soo fast to the magic it would make your head spin and wouldnt care about dwight not committing beyond next year. i would have a WHOLE year to convince him otherwise, AND, if he left, we STILL got cap space to rebuild………