Dwight Howard said Monday that he wants to finish his playing career in Orlando, that he wants to win an NBA championship with the Magic and that he loves the city and its fans.
He even said it on the radio, so it must be true. And most definitely binding.
“I love Orlando,” Howard said on the Dan Patrick Show. “The city has been very good to me and I would love to finish my career here. I want to win a championship and I want to win it in Orlando. … That’s all I’ve been thinking about.”
Howard, the Magic center who ranks among the league’s MVP candidates this season and high on a list of future NBA free agents, has the option to exit his contract after the 2011-12 season. As Bryan Schmitz points out in his BasketBlog for the Orlando Sentinel, that means the team would want to know Howard’s intentions by next February’s trading deadline.
So the crossroads for central Florida and another dominating All-Star big man – a la Shaquille O’Neal back in 1996 – is a little more than 11 months away.
And the fact that Howard stated unequivocally that he wants to keep playing and winning in Orlando means, what, exactly? That he cannot change his mind? That his feelings about Orlando now might not be significantly different from how he’ll feel about the franchise and the market come July 2012?
B-b-b-b-but he told it to Dan Patrick. On the radio! C’mon, Howard could write his intentions in blood at the front gates to Disney World and it wouldn’t exactly be a guarantee to supersede all the enticements and riches to which he might succumb when he hits free agency. Didn’t LeBron James say a bunch of right things a year or more out from his big announcement?
We’re holding out for that moment when the big guy really, officially, locks himself in. By, y’know, crossing his heart and hoping to die.