Mon Mar 28 05:36pm EDT
When the best teams in the league get closer to the playoffs, they often engage in some public show of togetherness to build unity and present a unified front for the most important games of the season. This year, the Orlando Magic have agreed to grow out their facial hair from now until their elimination from the playoffs. With any luck, they won't lose for several years, and then Hedo Turkoglu(notes) will look like a wizard.
Sadly, not every Magician has committed to his playoff beard. Somewhat surprisingly, the first player to crack was MVP candidate and team leader Dwight Howard(notes). From Zach McCann for the Orlando Sentinel:
Dwight Howard, who gets about two haircuts per week, had the sides of his face shaved at the barber on Sunday. But the rest of his facial hair hasn't been touched since the players vowed to not shave their beards till the end of their playoff run last week. Everyone else — it appeared — has continued with the team's "Fear the Beard" campaign.
The normally brotherly blogosphere has been ripped apart recently with arguments over the relative MVP merits of Howard and frontrunner Derrick Rose(notes), but I think this bit of news seals the deal for the latter. Would a true valuable star ditch his teammates in their moment of need for the sake of his own appearance? Of course not. Rose would never shave a patchy beard, and not just because Tom Thibodeau doesn't allow him to touch razors.
There is as yet no word on whether or not the Magic have stripped Howard of all leadership duties, but I fully expect him to lose his role as designated Orlando jokester. Everyone get ready for Jameer Nelson's(notes) unique take on slapstick.