NBA Sunday: Rebuilding Dwight Howard’s Image
Dwight Howard Gives Thanks To Orlando Fans In Newspaper Ad
In a relatively short period of time the Orlando Magic have tumbled from the ranks of the league’s elite and perennial title contenders to a team in the beginning stages of what could be a very long and morale diminishing rebuilding project.
The departure of All-Star center Dwight Howard, who was traded to the Los Angeles Lakers last month in a four team blockbuster deal. Those in the know behind the scenes weren’t shocked by the deal and most came to the conclusion many months ago that Howard and the Magic’s front office relationship had deteriorated to the point that the superstar center would eventually be traded.
But the average fan still held out hope on the slimmest branch of faith that the relationship between both parties could be salvaged, especially after it was announced general manager Otis Smith and head coach Stan Van Gundy, thought to be the reasons of Howard’s unhappiness in Orlando, weren’t returning for the 2013 season.
Howard grew disenchanted with the way he perceived how the Magic conducted business from the top down and how players were treated (marketed). However, the veteran big man maintained from the start that the community and fans of Orlando were his light in the darkest of days of his impending free agent storyline and not the reason for his frustrations and eventual trade request.
To show his appreciation and help turn the page, Howard took out a full sized advertisement in Sunday’s edition of the Orlando Sentinel aimed directly at the fans of Orlando, reiterating his love for the community there and his time in an Orlando Magic uniform.
The ad which can be found on C7 of today’s Orlando Sentinel reads as the following:
“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. 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. Although my career with the Magic has come to a close, my love for the city and the people that make it beautiful will never end.”
The ad depicts highlights of Howard’s time in Orlando – both as a player and immersed into the community doing charitable work.
No question, the Howard and Magic relationship was beneficial to both parties over the past eight years.
Howard became a six-time All-Star and three-time Defensive Player of the Year award recipient.
The Magic organization compiled a 371-279 (57.1%) record, six trips to the playoffs, two appearances in the Eastern Conference Finals and one NBA Finals appearance (2009).
Howard won’t turn 27 until December and presumably has a ton of basketball left before he decides to walk away from the game for good (assuming his ailing back holds up), but his public image has taken a beating in recent months because of the situation in Orlando.
The decision to move forward with the ad in today’s Orlando Sentinel is obviously an effort to turn the page on the ending note of his time with the Magic and focus more on the positive.
Question is, will the fans of Orlando accept this gesture or will he be vilified with a chorus of boos when the Los Angeles Lakers travel to Orlando on March 12, 2013. Circle your calendars.
What do you think?
More On Dwight Howard And The Lakers
While the fans in Orlando embark on their new era with fresh faces and uncertainty, with Dwight Howard in the fold, the Los Angeles Lakers have landed their heir apparent to All-Star guard Kobe Bryant.
NBA great, entrepreneur and league analyst Magic Johnson is applauding the move for the Lakers’ title chances, now and in the future.
“It was a great move for the Lakers, not just for now but for the future because now we’ll have somebody we can build the Lakers around once Kobe is gone,” Johnson said according to Gary Washburn of the Boston Globe.
But Johnson believes it was the Lakers’ other trade this offseason, bringing in two-time MVP guard Steve Nash, which will help everything fully mesh on the court.
“I think that Steve Nash was also a key trade because Steve will make everybody better like Dwight Howard will make all the players better because he’s a great defender and he can get out on that break and run the pick-and-roll well,” Johnson added.
Johnson also feels the league is becoming more competitive and took time to applaud the work of the Boston Celtics organization, his one time on the court rivals, for their work reloading their roster this summer.
“Doc Rivers and Danny Ainge did a nice job retooling with Boston,” Johnson said.
“The league is in for a special year, because you need the Lakers and Celtics to be good and be competitive,” Johnson said. “It’s great that New York is coming back with both of those teams. And of course Miami. Now that the Lakers are strong again, that will make the West great, so now basketball is healthy because the Celtics, the rivalry between them and the Heat, and now you got New York having both rivalries with Boston and Miami.”
Quick Notes From Around The NBA
Andrew Bynum Further Energizes 76ers Fan Base: Despite a lockout shortened season and a roster devoid of mainstream name recognition, the Philadelphia 76ers increased their average attendance in 2012 by more than 3,000 fans over the prior campaign – the largest jump in the entire league.
The growth is expected to continue with the arrival of All-Star center Andrew Bynum, who was acquired in an August trade with the Los Angeles Lakers.
Team CEO Adam Aron told ESPN.com the Sixers have doubled their season-ticket base (92 percent of season-ticket holders renewed with some prices raised) and quadrupled sales of their 10-game plans as compared to last year.
In an effort to sell more 10-game plans this offseason, the team recently sent out a postcard that includes a personalized website and picture of a Sixers shoe with that person’s last name on it. The team sent it to more than 40,000 people who the team believes have been to a game in the past two years.
“Normal direct mail response is 2 percent,” Aron said. “Our response so far is about 10 percent.”
Miami HEAT Still Need An Interior Presence: After winning their second title in franchise history this past June, the Miami HEAT have been expected to start their defense of the throne employing a lineup more smallish in stature with All-Star forward Chris Bosh expected to handle a lot of minutes at center.
Former NBA All-Star center Alonzo Mourning recently told Ira Winderman of the Florida Sun Sentinel that method may work on a short term basis, but the team still needs to address their strength in the paint.
“The game is won from the inside out, not from the outside in,” Mourning said. “So to have a dominant big man, a 7-footer, 6-10 guy that demands a presence on that block, to have that obviously is a luxury. But because of supply and demand, there [are] not that many big men that have that impact. I think there’s maybe four or five in the league, at most. You have to figure out other ways to attack the paint, instead of just having the luxury of throwing it to the post. You’ve got to post up guys smaller that have the same type of impact, that demand a double-team, that can pass it out of the post.”