Dwight Howard made his return to the Orlando Magic home crowd and was met with boos, curse words, derogatory signs and and ton of ill wishes. Thus is life in pro sports. One day they love you, the next day they hate you. This is what Dwight Howard could say to make me, a fan of the Magic, an NBA fan and a sports fan, respect him again.
Sports reporter: ‘Dwight, what message would you like to give the fans of the Magic? Do you owe them an apology?”
Dwight: “An apology?” For What?”
Sports reporter: “Would you like to apologize for some of the things you said and did that has turned you from their favorite player to most hated player?”
Dwight: “Look. The Orlando Magic has been playing basketball games since the 1989-90 season. Every single player that has put on that uniform, except for the 12 guys who put it on tonight, have been told at one time or another by the team that they were no longer needed. They no longer fit into the plans of the team going forward. That is the reality of life in the NBA. The team does what they feel is in the team’s best interest. They aren’t worried about your feelings.”
Dwight: “All of us, even Kobe Bryant if he plays long enough, are going to be told we no longer fit into the future plans and we are going to be let go. So as a player, you need to do what is in your best interests if you are in a position to call the shots. Very few of us make it to this leagues, and even fewer of us are ever in a position to where more than one team would like for us to come play for them. Very few of us are able to put teams in a bidding war for our services.”
Dwight” “To not take advantage of that situation would be irresponsible on my part. What do I say to my family if at the end of the day, I did not maximize my earning potential and I run out of money while I’m still alive? What do I say? I wanted to stay loyal to the Magic so I took less money, lost out on endorsements, hurt my post-NBA career potential because I wanted Magic fans to approve of me?”
Dwight: “Where are those people for guys like Mark Acres, Bo Outlaw, Terry Catledge, Reggie Theus, Geert Hammink, Greg Kite, Chris Corchiani, Darrell Armstrong, Chucky Atkins, or Rony Seikaly?”
Dwight: “All those guys were told they were no longer needed here. Had I signed a new deal with the Magic and stayed here long enough, one day they would have said it to me. Could I then say to them that I could have gone to another team and made more money? Would that change their mind? No. And that’s okay. They have to do what they have to do to win games.”
Dwight: “So what do I have to apologize for? I scored more points, grabbed more rebounds and blocked more shots than any man who has ever put on the Orlando Magic uniform. Do I apologize for that? Do I apologize for an Eastern Conference Championship? Do I apologize for this beautiful new building? Do I apologize for all these good young players the team has to build around? What should I apologize for? For doing what every one of those fans would do if they could find a better paying job in a better situation?”
So, no. I don’t want to apologize. I will say I had a great time playing in front of these fans. I appreciate the cheers and the love they showed me for eight seasons. I wish them well. I wish the Orlando Magic well. I am a Magic fan for life. If my team can’t win the Championship, I hope they do. But apologies, regrets, hard feelings, no, i don’t have time for that. I have no need for that.”
If he would come out and say something to that effect, rather than “I was on a team of players nobody wanted” or “Orlando can’t win a title”, then I would have more respect for him. Many Orlando fans would likely feel the same way. Because in reality, most of the time it is the team that tells the player to take a hike. If he would make that point, then who knows, maybe one day his number is hanging from the rafters of the house that he built.