|Arguably the biggest powerhouse in the game, Howard hasn't shown he can win the big one. (Getty Images)|
Do me a favor. Find the errors in that first sentence.
If you said "all of it," congratulations! Now, make like Dwight Howard and pat yourself on the back and preen like Superman, seeing how you did what Howard has done his entire career: You've accomplished, basically, nothing.
Because the first sentence of this story was a joke. Dwight Howard never gave it his best shot in Orlando. The Magic did put premium talent around him. And now he's a bad guy -- not LeBron-level bad, but in that zip code -- for looking to leave.
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All that's left now are the details, and I'll be happy to supply them. If you're like the average NBA fan, you're probably thinking I'm nuts. Dwight Howard, a bad guy? Him? Not him -- he does a great Charles Barkley impersonation and he dunks so hard and he has a smile that could launch a thousand ships. All of which is true. Howard does do a great Barkley impersonation. He does dunk so hard. And he does ooze charisma.
Which means he's a fraud. He fools people who see what they want to see, which is the biggest dude in town, the best player around and the life of the party when he so chooses. Howard is all of those things, or he can be. When he wants.
But he also can be selfish and petulant. He can be a spoiled little brat, and all you have to do is watch him -- watch him for an entire game, not just when he's dunking and rebounding -- to see it for yourself. Or you could just consider the way Howard puts himself above his team every chance he gets. He led the NBA with 18 technical fouls last season, drawing so many that he was suspended for one game, then another, late in the season. The Magic lost both those games. In the bigger picture, you could argue those two losses don't matter, that the Magic finished four games behind the Celtics for the No. 3 seed in the East, and I'll give you that. But at the same time, what kind of teammate -- what kind of leader -- gets himself suspended from two games?
Sorry, three games. Howard also got himself suspended from a playoff game in 2009. Another meaningless game, really. Just a playoff game. Just a Game 6. On the road. Turns out, the Magic beat the 76ers without Howard. They had his back.
They've always had his back. Or at least, they've always tried.
I'd argue the Magic have tried harder for Howard than Howard has tried for the Magic, and I'd argue it's not even close. Orlando hasn't surrounded Howard with superstars like the Heat and Celtics and Lakers have done for their best players, but the Magic have given Howard enough tools to build a championship.
Orlando hasn't neglected Howard the way the Cavaliers neglected LeBron James (which is still no excuse for the cruel way he left Cleveland). In most playoff series when LeBron was there, the Cavaliers had the better player at only one position: LeBron's. The Magic haven't put Howard at such a disadvantage.
They surrounded Howard for the 2009 NBA Finals with Hedo Turkoglu, Rashard Lewis and Jameer Nelson. They surrounded him for the 2010 Eastern Conference Finals with Lewis, Nelson and Vince Carter. And they even shook up the team at midseason last year to give him some help, getting rid of Carter and some throw-in pieces for Jason Richardson and the return of Turkoglu. They even acquired Gilbert Arenas -- an acquisition that Howard approved, by the way -- in the hope that the goofball could find his once brilliant game.
It hasn't worked out, but not for lack of trying on Orlando's part.
But I'd say there was a lack of trying on Howard's part. The Orlando offense flows through him. He grabs 14 rebounds a game, many of them right next to the rim. He goes to the foul line more than anybody in the league -- 221 times more than any other NBA player last season. And still he has averaged more than 20 points only once, last season, when he averaged 22.9 to rank 11th in the league. Why doesn't he score like other superstars score? Because he has never put in the time to become a competent foul shooter. Howard is stronger and more explosive than anyone at his position, but he goes from Superman to Superbad because he can't make a free throw.
At the end of games, Dwight Howard is a liability.
Assuming he hasn't been suspended.
Only now, he wants someone else to do the heavy lifting. He wants to be traded, but not just anywhere. This isn't a guy who says to himself, "Orlando didn't work, so send me somewhere else -- anywhere else."
No, this is a guy who says, "Send me to Dallas, which won last year's NBA Finals. Or to the Lakers, which won the previous two NBA Finals. Or to New Jersey, the league's next hot destination thanks to Jay-Z and a cool new arena in Brooklyn. Send me to Jersey because the Nets are going to win soon, and I'd like to go along for the ride."
Pathetic is what Howard is. Transparent, too. He wants to win, but he wants it to be easy. He's like LeBron, chasing a title but only if he can stack the deck in his favor. With nobody in his posse of ass-kissers willing or even aware that such a title would be diminished, Howard thinks he's entitled to the shortcut. Just like LeBron did.
And NBA players wonder why their fun sport isn't more popular? That's why. You're why, guys like Dwight Howard, a liar who jerks the fans around because he can. In late May, Howard assured Magic fans that he would stay beyond his current contract, even invoking Shaquille O'Neal's name to say, "I'm not trying to run behind nobody like Shaq ... I want to have my own path, and I want to start that here in Orlando."
Just kidding! Two weeks later, Howard said he wanted to become a free agent.
Later Howard lied about wanting to play overseas this year if the lockout continued. He's a brat, I tell you. A spoiled brat who says one thing, then says another, and doesn't know how transparent he is.
Dwight Howard is see-through. It's like I can look right through his jersey, through those enormous muscles, all the way to his spine. Or what passes for one.