by Ben Nance
Dwight Howard is by far the best center in the NBA in my opinion. However, he may be the most divisive player in the league, outside of LeBron James. In 2011, Howard was set to become a free agent, after playing his first eight seasons in Orlando. The 6’11 center had led the Magic all the way to a NBA Finals appearance in 2009, where they eventually lost to the Lakers. Coming off of his rookie contract and eager to explore his options, this is when the first “Dwightmare” began. Howard told upper management that he requested to be traded to the Brooklyn Nets, where he could start fresh. DH12 was denied his trade request and later rescinded his trade demands. He signed a contractual amendment which guaranteed he would stay with Orlando for one more season.
After the end of the following season, Howard yet again had a decision to make: stay with the team that drafted him or choose a free agency destination of his choice. Dwight seemed destined to leave the Magic and their GM made a quick decision to trade the All-Star to the Los Angeles Lakers in a three team deal. Reports surfaced that he did not wish to play in LA, especially alongside Kobe Bryant. With just one year remaining on his contract, Howard was set to become a free agent in July of 2013. Media pundits claimed that Howard handled free agency, management and the entire process entirely wrong. His indecision was the most vilified free agency decision since LeBron’s infamous TV stunt. Once the dust settled, Howard remained a Laker for the 2012 NBA season.
His season was far from a success in LA as he played with constant injuries and a lackluster effort. The media destroyed Dwight, calling him “soft” and “weak minded”.The Lakers were supposed to be one of the best teams in the league (on paper) and ended the season by barely making the playoffs. After a first round exit against the Spurs, “Dwightmare 2” had officially started. Would he re-sign in LA or hop to a destination location of his choosing like Houston, Atlanta, Dallas or Golden State?
After visiting with five teams under a plethora of media scrutiny, Dwight Howard finally made his free agency decision…it was the Houston Rockets where he was granted a four-year, 88 million dollar contract.
“Dwightmare 2” was bad, and Howard’s reputation has been tarnished as a result. As a Rocket, it gives Howard an opportunity to start fresh, change his reputation and potentially win a championship for Houston.
The only question remaining is whether we’ll see a “Dwightmare 3” in 2017?