Dwight Howard has spent the better part of the last year making a mess of things as he plays out and prolongs his torturous divorce from the Orlando Magic. With his team performing like a middle-of-the-East collection of sometimes-stiffs and no clear improvement in sight, Howard openly agonized over whether to exercise his early termination option after the 2011-12 season and become a free agent. That (understandably) angered Magic fans, which (regrettably) convinced a desperate-to-be-liked Howard to opt-in for '12-13 rather than take the early exit, which (predictably) just delayed the inevitable — his eventual resumption of trade demands and attempts to force his way out of town — and prolonged the pain for Orlando and Magic fans, especially the diehards that had supported Howard since the team chose him out of high school with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2004 NBA draft.
Now, with the saga having cost coach Stan Van Gundy and general manager Otis Smith their jobs and sent the franchise into a tailspin that threatens to remove the Magic from their perch among the second tier of Eastern Conference playoff teams, Howard has once again reiterated his demand to be shipped out of Orlando. He told Yahoo! Sports NBA columnist Adrian Wojnarowski on Sunday night that he informed new Magic general manager Rob Hennigan of his desire to be traded when the two met Friday, and that there's only one destination (presumably the Brooklyn Nets) where he'll agree to sign a long-term extension. He wants to have his cake and eat it, too, but only if it's made just the way he likes it and it's served to him in Brooklyn by, I don't know, Marnie? And Magic fans — even those dyed-in-the-wool diehards — are sick of it:
That tweet comes to us courtesy of @StayDwight, the Twitter account associated with the website StayDwight.com, a "grassroots campaign" organized by Ryan Totka, an "Internet entrepreneur" and "branding & marketing guru" aimed at rallying Magic fan support to show Howard how deeply he's loved in Disneyworld and convincing him to soften his stance on saying so long to the only franchise he's ever known.
For more than a year, Totka and a group of like-minded Magic fans have tried to tug at Howard's heartstrings, erecting billboards to remind him that Orlando is his town in a way that New York probably never would be, selling "Stay Dwight" T-shirts that (in part) benefited the Orlando Magic Youth Foundation, getting Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer to record a video message praising Howard's work in the community, and generally trying to rage against the dying of the light. Now, though, it seems like the light's dead and Howard's staunchest public supporters have thrown in the towel. Studs Terkel told us hope dies last; unfortunately, though, it still dies.
Oh, well: Look on the bright side, Magic fans. At least it doesn't look like Brooklyn's going to have the cap space to bring Dwight in anytime soon.
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