Orlando fans rain boos on Dwight Howard
by Jeff Zillgitt, USA TODAY Sports
ORLANDO – Dwight Howard led the Los Angeles Lakers onto the court 13 minutes, 38 seconds before tipoff between the Lakers and Orlando Magic and was met with boos.
Those lasted until Howard took the first shot in the layup line. The boos died until Howard got the ball again in the layup line.
When Howard took a breather with 3:30 left in the first quarter – he had six points and three rebounds – security stood close to Howard’s spot on the bench and monitored fans.
Howard sat at the end of the bench, smiling, making small talk with fans sitting courtside and drinking water.
During introductions, fans again booed Howard loudly, directing their ire at the star they feel jilted them and left for bright lights, big city.
But the vitriol was nowhere near the same level that Cleveland fans reserved for Miami’s LeBron James when he returned to Cleveland for the first team as a member of the Heat in 2010.
While Howard apologized to Magic fans in a USA TODAY Sports story, some fans were not ready to accept his apology. They are still stinging from his departure – or more direct, the way he abandoned the team, city and central Florida.
Several Magic fans arrived with altered No. 12 Magic Howard jerseys.
Marc Craen, 18 of Orlando, saved money in the offseason to buy season tickets for the 2012-13 Magic.
“I paid for the season tickets myself so I could come to this game,” Craen said. “I picked up a job. Low pay, but it covers the tickets.”
Wearing a No. 12 Magic jersey with a piece of duct tape covering the first letter on the back of the jersey, Craen wrote a C on the duct tape – obviously no longer a Howard fan.
“I was until the offseason,” he said. “Just his whole handling of the situation even when he was on our team. He just left us and now he just talks trash about us in the national news. It’s upsetting as a Magic fan.”
Keaton Palmer, 22 of Orlando, was a Howard fan. Also wearing No. 12 … [For more on Orlando fans rain boos on Dwight Howard, click here.]