The NBA All-Star Game starters were announced yesterday, and as expected, the fans voted in Dwight Howard. Howard has been in a part of six of these All-Star Games; after all, he’s a three-time Defensive Player of the Year, he’s a double-double machine and he’s the best center in the league – but he’s certainly not an All Star.
Howard is the latest of the superstars to determine which team he wants to play for. There was LeBron. You remember “The Decision,” don’t you? Then it was Carmelo Anthony. That’s working out well, isn’t it? And now it’s Howard, who’s making a list and checking it twice, and it feels like a new team is added to it after each road contest.
For now, Howard is a member of the Orlando Magic. After All-Star Weekend, however, he could be wearing one of 29 other jerseys. That’s what he wants anyway – to get out of tiny Orlando and play under the lights in Los Angeles or Chicago or Brooklyn. For Magic General Manager Otis Smith, it’s difficult to just give away your franchise player. But now, realistically speaking, the relationship is severed and it’s irreparable, and a divorce is the only solution.
There’s no point in keeping Howard around. Sure, there’s the double-double when he’s on a national stage (or playing the Charlotte Bobcats), but it’s more of a showcase for the opponent than it is the will to win for his own team. Last week, against the Philadelphia 76ers, Howard was playing more to the kiss cam than he was trying to keep his team in the game. But what do you expect from a guy who has lost the respect of his teammates?
A week earlier, Howard, under the spotlight that he covets so much, put on a performance for the ages. In two games against the Boston Celtics, the Magic posted a franchise-low in scoring in a 31-point defeat, then followed it up three nights later by surrendering a 21-point halftime lead.
In the midst of their four-game losing streak – which ended with a narrow victory over the hapless Washington Wizards – Howard played the blame game.
"I look at guys and they don't look like they want to play," Howard said. "I told them at halftime, 'If you don't want to play, just stay in the locker room, because it don't make sense for a team who we should beat to just demolish us…if you don't want to be out there, don't dress up."
Funny – Howard hit four shots in that 31-point beat-down against Boston, and in the rematch he made one basket, missed a free throw, had a goaltending charge and committed a technical foul. If that’s not the clutch gene then I don’t know what is.
While he’s calling it out his mates, he’s also making calls to his pals on opposing squads. That’s why after his team got destroyed in New Orleans, he decided to make a plea to his friend Derrick Rose. No, he didn’t say the team needs to a better job on the boards, that the team defense was a little weak, but that he wouldn’t mind suiting up in a Bulls uniform alongside the reigning MVP.
At this point in the game, it’s too late for the Howard-Magic relationship to be mended. Simply put, Dwight, you’re a punk. You’re a terrible teammate, you’re selfish, and at this point I’m wondering if your incredible talent can outweigh your pathetic demeanor. Since December we’ve been on this saga, and it’s exponentially getting worse. You’re the leading vote-getting in this month’s All-Star Game, but you’re anything but a star.