Orlando Magic all-world center Dwight Howard's charity basketball game, set to take place on Nov. 13, will feature former Orlando Magic stars Anfernee Hardaway and Steve Francis. Great. Why not just bring back Shaquille O'Neal to talk about his impending free agency, or have Nick Anderson shoot free throws at halftime?
We're being a little dark, here, but the Orlando Magic have matched enviable NBA success with all manner of star-crossed fulminations since entering the league in 1998. And few better represent that frustration, to Magic fans, than Hardaway and Francis. Both had potentially brilliant careers undone by withering knee problems, an inability to adjust to those knee problems, and clashes with coach Brian Hill (who served two stints as Orlando sideline stalker). Fittingly, Francis was even traded away from the Magic in 2006 (laughably, to the New York Knicks as coached by Larry Brown) in part for Penny Hardaway's expiring contract.
That's not us editorializing in retrospect. It actually said "the expiring contract of Anfernee Hardaway" on the Orlando press release announcing the deal. Four and a half months before the contract expired, mind you.
Also, Vince Carter will be there. As will Rashard Lewis. So will Gilbert Arenas, though he's still technically a member of the Magic for now. Oh, the humanity.
Of course, it's Howard's humanity and charitable drive that is the force behind this, and that's all that counts. All proceeds for the game will go to his D12 Foundation, Howard's charity. And it speaks to Howard's popularity that he was able to wrangle an impressive litany of former Magic players for an event like this.
The D12 Foundation also has received commitments from Gilbert Arenas, Trevor Ariza, Carlos Arroyo, Matt Barnes, Brandon Bass, Earl Clark, Drew Gooden, Rashard Lewis, Mike Miller, Jameer Nelson, Jason Richardson and DeShawn Stevenson.
Those commitments are in addition to Ryan Anderson, Chris Duhon, Quentin Richardson and Daniel Orton, who have told the Orlando Sentinel directly or through their agents that they expect to play.
Crack wise all you want about Howard and the rest of the volunteers having nothing to do at this point in the year as the lockout drones on, but this is some fine work from both Dwight and his manager Kevin Samples.
And as disappointing as some of those players were to Magic fans, these players wouldn't have gotten a chance to disappoint them had they not excited them considerably from the start. Chin up, Magic fans.