Dwight Howard could not win at this point. He took out a full-page ad to thank the fans in Orlando, but that was never going to smooth things over. Not even close. It was going to stoke the anger.
Howard couldn’t win. If he does nothing he looks like he doesn’t care, if he buys the ad fans will shred him for it. He backed himself into that corner with his actions of the past six months.
George Diaz, a blogger at the Orlando Sentinel, did shred Howard for the ad (even at points using an old Sam Kinison bit).
He chose to make it a melodrama, enabled in some part by the reluctance of Magic management to trade him and be done with it. Still Howard is gone and he shares the brunt of everyone’s anger.
His parting shot involves him posing with a Los Angeles Lakers uniform. And so it comes across as awfully awkward for him to say that “although my career with the Magic has come to a close, my love for the city and the people that make it beautiful will never end.”
Sorry Dwight. It is now an unrequited love.
Again, Howard couldn’t win. He has a lot more of this coming to him this next season, and it is on Howard and those advising him. They got what they wanted, a trade to a contender in a major market (if not the one they targeted), but they sacrificed a pretty clean NBA reputation to get him there.
It was never going to end well in Orlando, it never does when a superstar forces themselves out of town. Howard did that. But he went through it like he was following a script, right down to the ad in the local paper. Howard’s problem was both he strayed from the script (waiving his opt-out rights) and he was an unconvincing actor in it.
Now he needs to repair the image, something winning can help with. But in the short term he needs to keep his head down for a while. Just play ball. Do what you do well. And understand that Orlando is never going to forgive you.