During the early morning hours of July 6th 2013, the NBA’s Houston Rockets delivered an incredible 4,160 ounce, 83-inch child into their basketball world. The largest baby in the history of mankind, Dwight Howard, signed a free agent contract to become the Houston Rocket’s newest franchise center. While Howard is equipped with the most imposing physical attributes of any NBA center in today’s game, Dwight has the mental focus and maturity of a new born baby boy. Let’s take the time and review Howard’s long and winding road of mis-adventure and how he earned this embarrassing reputation.
It is hard to exactly pinpoint where the saga began with Baby Dwight because these issues must have been bubbling under the surface for years before they were made public. While Howard was a member of the Orlando Magic, he and former Magic Coach Stan Van Gundy would usually trade verbal barbs in the media for various player/coach disagreements. At the time, it seemed like harmless chatter because Orlando was a very good team during the late 2000’s, winning 50+ games in four consecutive seasons (’07-’11) and even captured an Eastern Conference Championship during the 2008-2009 season.
However, as the Orlando Magic endured multiple disappointing playoff performances, Baby Dwight’s frustration grew and there were rumblings inside the organization that Howard wanted to be traded during the 2011-12 lockout shortened season. Requesting a trade is usually not a big deal in pro sports. However, the most baffling issue was the fact that Howard had an opt- out clause in his contract after the 2011-12 season. So if Howard was truly un-happy with his situation in Orlando, then he should have just sucked it up for one more year, dealt with the dog-and-pony show that is the Orlando Magic, and simply moved on after the season to a new team as a free agent. It could have been a clean and smooth divorce from Orlando, but with Baby Dwight involved, he just HAD to make a mess just for the sake of making a mess.
As his trade demands became public, the Magic was forced to shop Howard around the league. Rumors began of the Brooklyn Nets, Dallas Mavericks, and Los Angeles Lakers all being potential suitors in the Howard sweepstakes and these talks completely enveloped the Orlando Magic. As a result, Baby Dwight managed to undermine all parties that were involved: organizations, coaches, and players. Once it seemed as though Howard wouldn’t get the trade he requested, he rescinded his trade request. However, since Baby Dwight left Orlando in the dark about whether or not he would opt-in for another season or sign a long-term deal with the team, the circus was forced to continue.
Finally, at the 11th hour of the 2012 NBA trade deadline, Orlando needed an answer from Baby Dwight. They didn’t want to lose their superstar in free agency and get nothing in return, so the Magic needed to know if they should trade him now or would Howard re-sign with the club. As it turns out, the circus was forced to continue because Baby Dwight did not commit long-term to the Magic, instead he elected to only sign for one more season with a team he had no intention of playing for beyond 2012. With Howard still on the Magic, the next domino to fall was the firing Head Coach Van Gundy, most likely an attempt by Orlando to appease their childish superstar. Reading between the lines, Van Gundy probably lost his job over a player who didn’t want to be with the team anyway.
After much spilled milk and countless soiled diapers, Baby Dwight finally got his wish and he was shipped off to the Los Angeles Lakers during the 2012 off-season. However, Howard’s childish side-show did not end there. In fact, Baby Dwight’s routine was magnified to a whole new level because the Lakers are much more high-profile team with international recognition. The intimidating atmosphere and high expectations that were demanded from Baby Dwight became too much for him to handle. The coaching staff and his teammates again became scapegoats for his lack of playoff success, so Howard elected to bolt to a new team once these adversities were revealed.
Baby Dwight has now managed to alienate two fan-bases and sabotage another franchise with his antics. Not only will the Lakers be without Howard this season, they are also without Andrew Bynum and a 2017 first round draft pick which is now property of Orlando. Granted, the Lakers aren’t total victims as they did not have a long term commitment from Howard before the trade was agreed to anyway. In other words, L.A. knew what they were getting themselves into. And with Bynum withering away on the Philadelphia 76er’s bench, the Howard trade may have been a blessing in disguise which helped L.A. rid themselves of two headaches at once.
Laker fans can only hope that these missing pieces will result in addition by subtraction. As for the Rockets, while they welcome their new-born manchild into their basketball family, one cautionary phase must be in the back of Houston’s mind as they move forward in their quest for an NBA Championship: Buyer Beware.