Monday, February 11, 2013

In Search Of...Dwight Howard and How He Ruined Two Teams

Dwight Howard has really screwed this up, hasn't he?

When news first broke that Howard had been traded in a massive deal involving Andrew Bynum being shipped to the 76ers and Andre Iguodala being traded to the Nuggets, the boys were excited.  They weren't exactly sure why, but they knew that something big had happened to the player that they adored ever since our first trip to Orlando back in 2009.

No graffiti to be found
When we arrived back in Orlando last month, I was half expecting Howard to be vilified in the city that called him a hero for 5 years.  His Lakers' career had started with a lot of fanfare and a fair number of losses.  Would Orlando take pride in the fact that their disgraced hero had failed in Los Angeles?  I was determined to find out - sleuth style.

I went to the same posh shopping center that I went to when I searched for Tiger Woods back in 2009.  What I saw when I walked into the court yard was a huge photo of Howard endorsing Adidas right outside of the Adidas store.  I found it funny that it was a picture of him dunking a basketball just liked he dunked himself out of Orlando last off season.  Although this is an exclusive area right off of International Drive South, I was expecting some graffiti - perhaps some crutches or a cast on his arm.  Nothing.

Another Howard product doing well
His endorsements remained in tact.  Pictures of him with McDonalds and VitaminWater were also present with nary a scratch.  Is this the most polite city sports fan base in the country - or the most apathetic?  I was astounded.  Here Howard had done everything but piss on Mickey Mouse caricatures at Disney World on his way out and the fans allowed his remaining legacy and pictures to remain unscathed?  You know how I felt when Josh Beckett was sent packing to LA.

But back to the Lakers.  I watched the game against the Celtics a couple of nights ago.  Kobe Bryant admonished Howard the night before (as Pau Gasol went down with a plantar) because of Howard's less than stellar record of playing through pain and injury.  Now as the primary big man, Bryant made Howard play.  Howard ran around like the superman he liked to call himself, but any time he was challenged by KG or one of the Celtics' other big men, he became the one arm bandit.  His final statistics showed that his head just wasn't in the game - scoring 9 points and retrieving 9 rebounds - and neither were his teammates - as the Celtics dominated the game from the beginning.

That made it 6 wins in a row for the Rondolettes and they haven't lost yet this month.  Interestingly enough the first February win in the streak was against the same Magic that traded their blue chipper away for draft picks and driftwood.  That win, a Celtics 97-84 victory, really showcased what is right about the Celtics and what is definitely wrong with the Magic this year.  J.J. Redick of all players led the team in scoring and cast off Nikola Vucevic led the team in rebounding.  Even E'Tuan Moore saw significant time.  Man.

It's a perfect circle this month.  Just as the Celtics survive without their best player, the Lakers and Magi are struggling because of their best player.  Even with the blizzard, I'd rather be Boston right now.

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