The list of people frustrated, angry or just fed up with Dwight Howard is growing faster than the national deficit with the inclusion now of every player’s most loyal and starry-eyed constituency: The kids.
The proverbial kids. The true last refuge of scoundrels, the blanket in which connivers like to wrap themselves to pre-empt any questioning of their motives. “We’re doing it for the kids.” Or “c’mon, think of the kids.”
Now Howard, the Orlando Magic’s all-NBA center whose prelude to free agency has turned into a wild careen downward in public image and likeability, has steered his luxury SUV of indecision and disappointment straight into the group that loved him most. An official at Howard’s annual basketball day camp for children told the Orlando Sentinel that Howard will not make a scheduled appearance at the event next Monday or Tuesday.
Instead, Howard will remain in Southern California, rehabilitating from the outpatient back surgery he had there on April 20. That’s not going over well with some of the campers and families that paid $199 for the two-day camp’s registration fee or, for that matter, with Orlando media types such as the Sentinel’s Mike Bianchi:
Originally, Howard was scheduled to be back in Orlando a few days after having out-patient back surgery, but he hasn’t been seen by the Magic in Orlando in more than three months. He has, however, attended at least two Los Angeles Dodgers games and a portion of the adidas Nations basketball tournament in L.A.
Howard’s annual camp originally was scheduled for July 1-2 at UCF, and Howard was supposed to attend both days. But it was postponed and rescheduled for Aug. 13-14 at Orlando Volleyball Academy.
Although the camp still will be held next week. Andrew Nicholson, the Magic’s first-round draft pick, will fill in for Howard.
I’ve said it once and I’ll say again: It’s hard to believe Dwight is physically unable to attend a youth basketball camp, walk around the gym, offer some words of encouragement, take pictures and sign some autographs for the kids.
At the time of Bianchi’s deadline, there had been no word from Howard’s peeps of a refund. This all might go down easier if, rather than dropping $199, the kids and their parents – who were notified of the big man’s no-show in an email – could participate and see Nicholson for, oh, $19.99.
At this point in Orlando’s long, miserable Dwightmare, it’s hard to imagine Howard digging his public relations hole any deeper short of appearing on late-night TV with a puppy, a bunny rabbit and a Gallagher-esque mallet.
Howard, some will note, assiduously has avoided winding up on a police blotter and merely is flailing clumsily as he flexes his leverage as an NBA game-changer. But here at the Hang Time hideout, you don’t get brownie points for not breaking laws and you use up goodwill swiftly once you turn diva.