Lakers Offseason Update: Dwight Howard Newspaper Ad Further Polarizes Fans in Orlando, Los Angeles

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Lakers Offseason Update: Dwight Howard Newspaper Ad Further Polarizes Fans in Orlando, Los Angeles
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Dwight Howard has earned the ire of the NBA, but he is the most highly valued player in basketball right …

COMMENTARY | LeBron James and Kobe Bryant might have some company atop the list of NBA's most polarizing players after Dwight Howard's latest activity.

While the Los Angeles Lakers' faithful bask in the glory of acquiring the NBA's best center this summer, fans of the Orlando Magic were treated to a full-page ad from Dwight Howard that could be seen as pouring salt on a deep wound.

The ad, which was circulated in the Orlando Sentinel on Sunday, September 1, 2012, said all of the right things and seemed to come from a warm, sincere place. But the fact of the matter is that Orlando fans probably don't want to hear anything from Howard given the way he conducted himself during the latter years of his tenure with the Magic.

To say that Howard was indecisive over that period is an understatement.

He put the Magic through sports purgatory and made his eventual departure from Central Florida long and torturous. He said that he loved Orlando on numerous occasions, only to change his mind and drive the team's fans crazy in the process.

"Words cannot express the love that I have for Orlando," reads an excerpt from the ad. "Although my career with the Magic has come to a close, my love for the city and the people that make it beautiful will never end."

How sincere can those statements really be given the events surrounding the "Dwightmare"?

Actions speak louder than words, and the superstar's behavior over the last few years have been difficult to predict. Those actions could make the statements he made in the ad seem disingenuous at best.

Let's look at that alleged behavior in more detail:

"I'm Loyal"

At a March 15, 2012 press conference, Howard attempted to explain his decision to remain in Orlando for another year after waiving the opt-out clause in his contract that would have made him a free agent the following summer. This came after months of back-and-forth on whether or not he wanted to remain in Orlando.

The Awkward Presser

After pouring out his emotions in March, Howard was still unhappy with his situation in Orlando and allegedly asked for then-head coach Stan Van Gundy to be fired. An uncomfortable exchange in front of the media made the entire situation even more volatile.

Van Gundy claimed Howard asked for him to be removed, which Howard denied after the question was directed to him as he was clearly unprepared. Van Gundy would be let go at the end of the 2011-2012 season, but Howard wasn't done.

Another Trade Demand

Howard again asked to be traded prior to the 2012 NBA Draft, his loyalty apparently all but forgotten. At this point, it was a matter of when, not if, the elite big man would leave Orlando. From the perspective of the Magic fan, how could anything that came out of Howard's mouth (or an ad) be taken seriously?

His subsequent trade to the Lakers may have been a shock because of the destination, but there was no future for him in Orlando.

Lakers' Fans Will Take the Whole Package

When Dwight Howard was traded to the Lakers, there were no groans of disappointment, only shouts of joy resounding from the streets of L.A. That's because winning is the only thing that matters, and fans in Southern California know what Howard brings to the table.

Even though the Lakers had the second-best center in the league in Andrew Bynum, who was known to have some maturity issues of his own, bringing in Howard was a no-brainer, especially considering the team kept Pau Gasol.

What it all boils down to is that Magic fans have the right to be upset about the ad even if it was sincere. But it reeks of public relations and goodwill fodder, nothing more.

Fans in Orlando will likely never forget about the drama they've been through, and if they were on the verge of doing so, the ad was a harsh reminder of all of it. The saving grace is that winning seems to have a curing affect of sorts, even with haters -- and Howard will win plenty of games, and potentially titles, in the purple and gold.

Just take a look at how well LeBron and Kobe's jersey are selling.

Michael C. Jones is a Yahoo! Featured Contributor in Sports and covers the Los Angeles Lakes and the NBA. He has written for Southern California's Press-Enterprise and is the Editor of Sports Out West.

You can follow him on Twitter @MikeJonesTweets.

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