There’s a new number 12 in Orlando and Dwight Howard, for some reason, is upset about it.
In an interview with the Orlando Sentinel, Howard said he was upset when the Orlando Magic allowed Tobias Harris to wear number 12, Dwight’s jersey number during his time in Orlando.
How dare they? How dare the Magic let someone else wear Howard’s number. That jersey should have been raised in the rafters the instant he was traded to the Los Angeles Lakers. He had every right to leave Orlando and the Magic organization was lucky that he graced them with his presence for eight years. How dare they give his jersey, the one he cared so much about, to a 21-year old player who only averaged 8 and 4 last season. So what if Howard basically begged and forced his way out of Orlando, getting Stan Van Gundy fired along the way? He was a legend and legends get their numbers retired.
Give me a break.
You know what would have prevented Tobias Harris from wearing your number, Dwight? Staying in Orlando. They can’t give someone else your number if you’re still with the team wearing that uniform. But rather than working with the front office and coaches to try and bring a championship to Orlando, you saw the bright lights of LA and jumped at the opportunity, leaving the Magic in shambles and taking shots at your teammates, guys who “nobody wanted” along the way. You jumped ship and hurt everyone in the organization along the way. Is that worthy of a jersey retirement? When it was time for your ceremony, would anyone even come out to shake your hand?
The Orlando Magic have only retired one jersey in their franchise history, and it wasn’t even for a player: they retired the number six in honor of their fans, the sixth man. Penny Hardaway, considered the greatest player in the history of the franchise, spent six great years in Orlando but was not rewarded with a jersey retirement. Shaquille O’Neal, who started in Orlando, then went to the Lakers a la Howard, was not rewarded with a jersey retirement. 178 players have played at least one game for the Magic. None of their jerseys are in the rafters.
Throw in the fact that Tobias Harris wears number 12 to honor a friend who died of leukemia and Dwight’s case is even more unfathomable.
The point to this diatribe is not to criticize Dwight Howard as a basketball player. No one is denying his accomplishments in Orlando, or the impressive run he led the Magic on in the 2009 playoffs. If he thinks that the organization should retire his number, then he still hasn’t matured as a professional or as a human being. He burned too many bridges in Orlando to make Richard DeVos(one of the most respectable owners in the NBA) want to honor him in any fashion, let alone one that would immortalize him for generations to come. I completely respect the Magic for their decision to let Tobias Harris honor his friend by wearing number 12 and help the franchise finally move on from the “Dwightmare” that they dealt with for years.