Posted by Steve Aschburner
ORLANDO – Ever since Tuesday, when Cleveland began its hello-we-must-be-going from the 2010 postseason with an enigmatic performance from MVP LeBron James, the Cavaliers superstar has had his “legacy” bandied about.
Failing in his seventh season to win a title, when his team had the best record in the NBA two years running, was seen by some as a milestone regardless. Something to write into James’ permanent record.
So will Dwight Howard be next? Howard is just one year behind James in age and experience. Like his Cleveland counterpart, the 6-foot-11 Magic center has been to The Finals once already and has been his franchise’s center tent pole since his arrival. Like James, Howard has heard some chirping for smallish failures so far. But could the volume get cranked up if Orlando falls short of a title or, in particular, fails to return to The Finals?
Magic coach Stan Van Gundy thinks he might. “It’s unfair in either event,” Van Gundy said. “LeBron’s 25, Dwight’s 24. … I mean, a title is not that easy. It’s not like those guys’ teams are underachieving and not playing well.
“We build people up, not just in sports but in everything, to tear them down. If people want to jump on people, I guess that’s their business. But I don’t think that anybody realistic can doubt LeBron’s credentials as a player or a winner and the same thing with Dwight. But I know people will. So what’re you gonna do?”
“It’s only my sixth year in the league,” Howard said. “I have a long way to go. I’m going to build a legacy regardless of what happens this season or next season. And for me, it’s not always about building stuff on the court. I think you build a legacy off the court.
“Guys that are remembered the most are the ones who do things that go beyond basketball. So it’s not always about basketball and winning 50 championships, because you could win 50 championships and still not be happy.”
You would, however, have your body donated to science – maybe even before you were done with it – to examine how you managed to play in the NBA at age 74.