Dwight Howard, Man or Machine?

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When Dwight Howard asked Orlando to look into dealing him, it was a business move. Taking Brooklyn by storm with Deron Williams, in particular, was exactly the kind of power play that NBA superstars are, despite the anguished CBA negotiations, still able to pull off.

On Wednesday, Howard blurted out that the Magic would have to “roll the dice” like any other team pursuing him as a free agent. This was smart business: Getting traded at the deadline would gut his future destination, and his other principle option—heading down to Dallas with Williams—would have to wait until the offseason. But this kind of thinking, even more ruthless than a trade demand, is best kept off the public record. Inexplicably, Howard got emotional and told the world—after a win over the Heat, no less. The timing also served to thoroughly scramble the signals, or maybe show that Howard himself didn’t entirely understand his motivations. Staying in Orlando for any length of time is, superficially, a sign of integrity on Howard’s part. But it’s also worse for the team, dragging it along as a lame-duck franchise. Again, there’s no reason the CBA should allow for these perpetual binds. It was impossible to tell if Howard was losing his cool about his future away from Orlando, or suddenly feeling like he owed the team at least the rest of the year. At this point, it comes down to a question of how foolish, or sneaky, you want to think Dwight Howard is.

Then came a new revelation: Howard, feeling the backlash from the earlier comments, and perhaps hearing that Orlando was now frantically shopping him, told his teammates that he would be terminating his early termination option and spending another year with the Magic. Maybe he realized his earlier gesture, coupled with instant “roll the dice” quotable, wasn’t being taken as magnanimous. Maybe Howard sensed that the front office was steeling itself against his superstar clout, suddenly more interested in ending the headache than abiding by Howard’s guidelines.

Telling teammates smacks of guilt, of a need to be liked after a decision that sat well with no one. However, sticking around Orlando for at least another season  means we will be subjected to this exact same morass a year from now. Howard is certainly doing the Magic no favors, since it’s not like the team is a powerhouse for whom each year represents a title shot. Howard seems to have thought with his gut, if at all, throughout this process. What makes it so hard to untangle, though, is the intermingling of business and personal, of rational and emotional. Dwyane Wade’s single-tweet commentary on the situation captured it perfectly: “Loyalty hahahahaha”.

If LeBron's televised "Decison" was a botched PR move, Howard has been like a middle-schooler fumbling his way through the early stages of dating. By default, Howard wields a certain amount of power, but seems unable, or uncertain, on just how to mobilize it. If Howard had the stomach for it, he could manipulate the system to land with an instant contender. Instead, Howard either doubled down in public, or let the guilt get to him. He retracted the least popular option and went with the most middling and inconclusive, one that solves nothing and simply spares him immediate ridicule.

That said, who knows how committed Howard ever was to just letting his free agency play out this summer? If he had thought about it for one second, he would have realized how badly this strategy blew up in the face of LeBron (and to a lesser extent, Chris Bosh). It was a bold stand, perfectly rational and within his rights as a player, as well as the cleanest solution to the problem of not wanting to play in Orlando anymore. Presumably, though, the waiting was too much for him—or the Magic just wasn’t interested in going along for the ride.

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Dwight Howard I will vote it to man, as also shared here http://awriter.org/. A machine can never compete what a man can do, I personally think Dwight Howard is cunning and smart acting foolish around.

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