Can Dwight Howard Repair His Image?
So (Dwight) Howard doesn’t have to sign a long-term contract extension with Orlando to pad his image. All he needs to do is be professional and treat the Magic organization with respect. He should call the team owner, Rich DeVos, and apologize for the confusion he’s created, for any missteps he’s made. Howard should tell him how hurt and embarrassed he was over the leak to (Stan) Van Gundy, and that he thinks a clean break is probably best for both sides, especially since his Magic teammates are as sick of this mess as everyone else.
If the Magic continue to hold on to him for the next month or so, Howard should return to Orlando and rehab under the team’s supervision. He should get to know new GM Rob Hennigan and new coach Jacque Vaughn. He should prepare for next season as if he’ll be playing in Orlando, and when the organization asks him if he’ll consider signing a long-term extension, he can still decline — he just needs to do it respectfully.
Howard doesn’t even have to reiterate that he wants to be traded. If he refuses to sign the extension, the Magic will make sure to trade him. And when potential trade partners ask the Magic if Howard will re-sign with them, that’s when he can repeat that his preferred destinations are the Nets, Lakers and Dallas Mavericks.
Howard has a better chance of getting the trade he wants by acting professionally and by patching things up with the Magic than he does by strong-arming them. It will also go a long way toward restoring his image, and then he can take care of the rest on the court. Playing well and winning will erase all the disdain some feel toward Howard right now.
After all, fans love a winner, especially one who’s smiling, always fun-loving and always dominant.