Posts Tagged ‘Orlando Sentinel’

Howard: ‘No Regrets’ … But Steamed Harris Is Wearing No. 12 In Orlando



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HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – If Dwight Howard is really trying to put his checkered recent past behind him, he has a strange way of making it happen.

The Houston Rockets’ All-Star center has jilted fan bases in Orlando and Los Angeles (Lakers) in each of the past two seasons, bolting for what he believed to be a better situation in each instance. But he still wants to feel the love in both places. After staying silent for weeks while he was orchestrating exists from both places, Howard is finally opening up about how things went down.

The break-up in Orlando was about him not trusting the folks in charge to have his back after he and Stan Van Gundy‘s routine head-butting on certain things went public during that infamous post-shootaround scene where Van Gundy told reporters that he knew Howard had asked that the Magic fire him.

When the Magic fired Van Gundy in May 2012, Howard’s mind was already made up. He was gone. The trade to the Lakers ended in disaster as well, with Howard being unable to co-exist with Kobe Bryant and his misgivings after the franchise hired Mike D’Antoni to replace Mike Brown instead of Howard’s preferred choice, Phil Jackson.

Howard explained his thought process to Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel:

“There were some things that I missed about Orlando,” Howard said. “There’s a lot of situations that nobody really knows that I kept on the inside, but there’s some things about Orlando that I missed. I’d say that getting out in the community and doing a lot of stuff that I did, I miss doing that stuff in Orlando and the relationships that I built with a lot of people over there in Orlando. I miss that.

“But I have no regrets. I’m happy everything happened the way it happened. Even though I got hurt in the process and I had to go through a tough time, it made me a better person. I’m more mature now. I know how to handle situations different than I did back then.”

Howard views the Rockets as a championship contender.

He thinks Houston has similar talent to the 2008-09 Magic squad he led to the NBA Finals.

On Tuesday, Howard compared Rockets small forward Chandler Parsons to Hedo Turkoglu and Rockets shooting guard James Harden to Courtney Lee but also added that Harden has more scoring ability. He compared Rockets point guard Patrick Beverley to Rafer Alston and Rockets point guard Jeremy Lin to Anthony Johnson.

Howard said he was disappointed that, last February, after the Magic acquired Tobias Harris in a trade, the team granted Harris’ request to wear No. 12, Howard’s old number.

“I just think that despite whatever happened, there was a lot of things that I did and that we did as a team, and that number was special down there,” Howard said. “And I was a little bit upset about that.”

What Howard may not realize is that Harris is wearing No. 12 to pay tribute to a close friend who had died of leukemia at 17 years old.

Simply put, Howard can’t have it both ways. He can’t depart the way he did and expect anyone in Orlando to hold him in the same regard they did before the bottom fell out.

The Magic might change their tune some day, years from now when the sting of the divorce wears off a bit more. And Harris will rock that No. 12 jersey well. He was one of the biggest and most promising surprises for a Magic team that struggled mightily last season in their post-Howard existence.

Clearly, this drama is not going away, no matter how many times everyone involved tries to make it so. Howard will have to relive and rehash these things every time he sets foot in Orlando and Los Angeles. And maybe that’s the ultimate burden he’ll have to bear, the eternal venom from fan bases scorned (Magic fans will at least admit they were torn to shreds when he left).

Howard says he has no regrets … time will tell!

Magic Need To Wake From Dwightmare?



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HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – Closure.

That’s what is on tap for Orlando Magic fans tonight when Dwight Howard makes his return to the building built upon his broad shoulders, the one that was supposed to house the city’s biggest and brightest star.

A win over the Los Angeles Lakers would sweeten the deal, anything the Magic can do to damage the Lakers’ playoff chances serves that purpose. And a lousy game by Howard might also add to the feel-good nature of the evening for those Magic fans still wounded by Howard’s departure last summer via a blockbuster trade.

But after it’s all over, when the booing is finished and the Lakers are in the air and headed to Atlanta for a Wednesday night matchup against the Hawks, the Magic and the entire city of Orlando needs to close the door on this Dwightmare drama for good. It’s time to wake up from this mess and finally move on.

That’s an extremely tall order, what with Howard’s refusal to stop sticking his size 18s in his mouth at seemingly every turn. Howard, however, is someone else’s Dwightmare now. The Lakers have to sweat out this summer wondering what he’ll do, whether he’s willing to stick around or chase his fortunes elsewhere (the Brooklyn whispers remain).

Magic fans will get a fresh start after tonight, and a well-deserved one. They can thank their front office for only having to see Howard once this year anyway. The decision to trade him to the Lakers and not somewhere else in the Eastern Conference prevented us all from having to go through this exhausting exercise on more than one occasion.,

That said, tonight’s meeting between the Magic and Lakers (7 ET, League Pass) promises to offer up one of the more bizarre scenes of the season, which is saying a mouthful, given the traveling circus the Lakers have been all season long.

Howard’s recent comments about his time in Orlando and his words about his former teammates (that he insists were misconstrued) will have to be addressed again … and in the flesh. There’s no Stan Van Gundy around to serve as the punching bag/foil for Howard, as he did during that infamous hallways scene after a shootaround practice last season.

One-time Howard ally Jameer Nelson will be in the other locker room. The eyes and ears of former Magic players like J.J. Redick, Rashard Lewis and even Vince Carter will no doubt be tuned into whatever is said.

Nelson swears there are no hard feelings, as he told Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel:

“What’s said is said, and what happened is over and done with,” Nelson said. “I’m just here trying to look forward and not trying to dwell on the past. The decision was made and things happen, so it’s not like anybody could take them back or anything like that. And me personally, I’m not mad at him for doing what he did. I don’t know. Could things have been done differently? Yeah. But they weren’t. So, me as a person, I just have to move on and try to continue to be successful and do the things I need to do to help the team get back in the position we used to be in.”

Last week, Howard said he had reached out to former teammates after some of them, including Nelson and Rashard Lewis and J.J. Redick, took issue with a comment Howard made to a Los Angeles television station about his old Magic teams.

Howard said the statement was misconstrued and twisted by the media — that he was attempting to say that the Magic were always considered underdogs.

Nelson was asked whether he and Howard have conversed recently.

“No,” Nelson said.

There was silence before Nelson spoke again.

“Have me and Rashard conversed? Yes.”

To his credit, Howard has tried his best to apologize to everyone from his former teammates to the arena workers for how he handled himself during his season-long departure, which started with a trade request he refused to own up to during training camp. Howard was candid in a sit down interview with USA Today‘s Sam Amick, explaining his side of things as best he could:

“In Orlando, I handled a lot of stuff the wrong way,” he said. “If any of those people in Orlando are upset with how I did it, I apologize for the way I handled it and the way it was handled in the media.

“I really just got caught up in wanting to please everybody else. I really love that city. That was the hardest thing to do was to leave that city because I basically grew up there. That was my whole life. Orlando was it. I did not want to leave all that behind — the city, just everything about it. The fans. But I wanted a change for my life. I just felt like there was something else out there for me.”

That something else, for now, is trying to rebound from the Lakers’ disastrous start to this season and assist Kobe Bryant and Steve Nash in delivering his new team to the playoffs.

Howard would be wise to focus on that tonight and not the hate shower he’ll get from the crowd tonight in Orlando. Because it should get nasty.

But when it’s over, win or lose, the Magic need to wake up from their Dwightmare and just move on.

In fact, it’s time for everyone to just move on!

Magic Get No Love From Dwight?

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – Lost in the fallout from the Los Angeles Lakers’ home loss to the Orlando Magic Sunday was the end of the game scene that didn’t include any warm and fuzzy handshakes between Dwight Howard and his former teammates.

With Howard and the Lakers smarting from the 10-point loss to the Magic, the All-Star big man reportedly left the court without so much as a handshake for the guys he battled alongside for years in Orlando.

While this wasn’t anywhere near the level of the Bad Boys Pistons shunning the Michael Jordan-led Bulls back in the day, it is yet another missed opportunity for Howard and the Magic to heal from their nasty break up last summer. To their credit, Howard’s Magic teammates are much more forgiving and understanding than some his critics might be (more from Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel):

Magic players said they weren’t upset that Howard didn’t shake their hands or wish them well after Sunday night’s win. Howard walked off the court once the final seconds of the fourth quarter ticked off Staples Center’s clock.

“That’s fine,” Magic point guard Jameer Nelson said. “Certain guys don’t shake hands after the game.

“I don’t have any hard feelings to the guy. He made a decision to do what he did. He’s on the team that he’s on. I’m here in Orlando, where I want to be. I just wish him the best of luck. I’m not going to go up and hug him and kiss him or anything like that. I think my coach would be mad at me.”

Magic power forward Glen Davis said he didn’t take any offense.

“If he wants to walk off the court, it’s cool,” Davis said. “No hard feelings, you know? He lost. I would feel bad, too. I wouldn’t want to shake anybody’s hand. So it is what it is.”

Howard and the Lakers have issues of their own to deal with. They’ll have to play another week without Steve Nash and another six to eight weeks without Steve Blake (abdominal surgery), the man who was slated to serve as Nash’s primary backup,

And we can’t forget about Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol and that whole “Big Boy Pants” thing … but not even a quick, courtesy handshake and good luck to his former teammates?

Howard, Van Gundy Join Forces Again … For Seminole County School System




HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – Their names will be linked in Orlando sports lore forever, former Magic superstar center Dwight Howard and former Magic coach Stan Van Gundy.

But it won’t always be about their messy divorce and departure from the Magic. On at least one account, the former player and coach will come together to help bolster the future for students in the Orlando area, the Seminole County School system to be exact.

It turns out that Howard and Van Gundy do have a common interest outside of winning a Larry O’Brien Trophy.

Diametrically opposed on so many issues, Howard and Van Gundy are political allies (the combatants in contests across the nation in this election year need to take notice) when it comes to helping preserve the property tax base that helps fund the school system.

Mike Bianchi of the Orlando Sentinel informed us all of this rather intriguing arrangement between these two men:

If you read my column last week, you know Van Gundy is the chairman of a political group in Seminole County called Citizens for Preservation of Property Values. The goal of the group is to increase property taxes in Seminole County to help preserve the area’s traditionally strong public school system — a system that has been decimated by $73 million in budget cuts over the past five years. In the Nov. 6 general election, Seminole voters will decide whether to approve a 1-mill increase in property taxes for four years beginning a year from now. The increase would bring in as much as $25 million annually to the school district.

Van Gundy says Dwight, who was recently traded to the Lakers, is going to lend some financial backing  to the cause.

“Dwight has pledged his support,” Van Gundy said Monday during an interview on our Open Mike radio show on 740 The Game. “He’s a resident of Seminole County, and he’s keeping his house here. I think his history will show that he’s had great concern for kids in the Central Florida community. With him still living here, we asked him to help and he didn’t hesitate.”

Surprisingly to some, both Stan and Dwight say they are on good terms and have been communicating regularly over the last several weeks. Van Gundy even texted Howard and wished him good luck after he was traded to L.A.

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From Dwight To Orlando … Farewell!

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – Now that they’ve finally heard directly from Dwight Howard, the city of Orlando can finally put this whole Dwightmare drama behind them.

Maybe not.

In what is either the classiest or the most sinister (depending on your perspective) twist yet, Howard took out an ad in Sunday’s Orlando Sentinel praising Magic fans and the city he called home for the first eight years of his career:

Dwight Howard’s farewell ode to Magic fans and the city of Orlando … too late?

It was a short but sweet wave goodbye, one that can be viewed in a number of different ways.

Here’s one: Howard is trying to do the right thing, however late it must feel to his critics, while also acknowledging that his time in the shadow of the Magic Kingdom was simply up.

And we have to commend him for a move that absolutely did not have to be done and probably won’t generate any warm and fuzzy feeling for him in and around Orlando, now that he’s officially with the Los Angeles Lakers. He didn’t have to lift a finger to say anything about the Magic, Orlando or the fans. He could have put that entire situation in his rear view and left the public relations mess for someone else to try to clean up.

But he didn’t.

And for that, (and only that) we have to give it up to Howard.

Howard On The Move In China, While His Q Score In Orlando Continues To Drop

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – Just when you think Dwight Howard‘s Q score in Orlando couldn’t sink any lower comes news that the former Magic and now Lakers big man is in China  on a shoe company-sponsored promotional tour. And this comes two weeks after he didn’t make it to Orlando for a basketball camp for kids in Orlando, as the Orlando Sentinel was quick to point out.

We’re not going to judge, since we don’t know what sort of doctor’s orders Howard was operating on in either instance. But strictly from a perception standpoint, this one stings, especially for the kids still heartbroken that their favorite player bolted town and blew off their camp in the same two-week stretch.

A few more details from Josh Robbins of the Sentinel:

Dan Fegan, Howard’s agent, deferred to adidas officials when asked why Howard flew overseas but did not appear two weeks earlier at his Orlando day camp. In a statement issued to the Orlando Sentinel, adidas officials said Howard was cleared to travel “just last week.”

In the statement, adidas officials said: “Since Dwight’s injury our focus has been on his recovery. His health has continued to improve and just last week he was cleared to travel. We are excited that Dwight is now able to participate in fan and community events as he continues to prepare for the NBA season. Dwight is an amazing athlete and outstanding partner with fans around the world.”

To be sure, Howard had remained in Southern California almost all summer after spending large portions of the 2011 offseason traveling to such locations as China, Japan, Mongolia, Russia, Spain and Tanzania.

This trip is supposed to be shorter than Howard’s prior trips to the Far East. Also, Gregg Darbyshire, the chief executive of ProCamps Worldwide, the company that runs Howard’s camps, said that, as far as he knows, Howard’s previously scheduled camp for kids in China has been canceled.

Granted, Howard savaged his Q score all last season with the foolishness that was his trade request (and the obligatory denials of said request, all 15 of them) and the eight months of nonsense that revolved around that circus.

Honestly, we can’t think of a whole lot Howard can do to improve his image until the next high-profile superstar — pick anyone — forces his way out of  town. Or  the Lakers win a title.

Wishful (Free Agent) Thinking For Magic

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – Orlando is fantasy land, where magic happens.

We get it.

But that’s no reason for anyone there to believe in magic or the make-believe required to believe in such things. The fallout from Dwight Howard‘s departure from Orlando and the Magic has apparently driven folks into fantasy mode. It happens when a franchise and its fan base are dealing with Post-Traumatic Superstar-Departure Syndrome.

Even our main man and friend of HT, Brian Schmitz of the Orlando Sentinel, is thinking outside the realm of reality in terms of the Magic’s free agent future:

Are the Magic looking to hook perhaps the NBA’s biggest fish four years from now?

Yes, it’s difficult for fans to even digest how long a wait that might be.

But wouldn’t the wait for Kevin Durant be worth it?

Now the knee-jerk reaction might be this: Durant? Durant isn’t the kind of kid who would ever abandon Oklahoma City as a free agent (after the 2015-16 season.) He’s the leader of a great, young team now. And surely, the Thunder aren’t about to let him get away.

Right?

Absolutely right. But we’ll play along, just to see what kind of rabbit you plan on pulling out of this hat:

People and circumstances change.

Who envisioned Miami striking up a band called The Heatles? Or New Jersey — New Jersey! – being relevant again?

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Role Reversal For Howard, Magic





HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – So this is what “hardball” looks like?

For months — before he changed course at the March trade deadline when he signed away his leverage — Dwight Howard was holding the ultimate card in his game of free-agent chicken with the Orlando Magic.

Now, with his latest trade request to the Brooklyn Nets ignored yet again, Howard’s 4th of July will include few fireworks outside of the ones he lights off in his backyard tonight.

The Magic don’t appear to be in any great rush to acquiesce and provide an escape route for their disgruntled superstar center. In fact, the Magic are reportedly exhausting every possible option to do anything but send him to the Nets, where he can join Deron Williams and Joe Johnson in the Brooklyn Big 3.

If starting a bidding war for Howard is what Magic general manager Rob Hennigan is trying to do, we’ll know by the weekend if he’s been successful. The guess here is that there will be no shortage of fantasy packages cooked up by teams hoping to land Howard. (After all the drama he’s put the Magic through since December, he remains the most dominant low-post force in basketball and no one vying for his services has forgotten that.)

His “Nets-or-nothing” stance, however, has forced the Magic into a very deliberate place in this standoff. As Brian Schmitz of the Orlando Sentinel points out, both sides crossed the point of no return a while ago, now it’s time to sort through the debris and figure out an ending to this sordid tale that allows both sides to claim victory:

The Magic are faced with making the biggest trade in their history. They have to get this right — or as right as you can under the most unfair of circumstances.

Let’s make this clear: The Magic have lost.

The divorce is all but finalized now. The sorrowful, angry reality just hasn’t fully hit the franchise and their fans. It won’t until the trade comes down, until Dwight no longer can flip or flop.

Even when they get what they believe is their best deal for Howard — even if it’s the Lakers’ Andrew Bynum — the Magic and their fans have lost the league’s best center — again.

Worse, while Shaq slipped away in the middle of the night, Dwight’s exit has been publicly agonizing and ugly.

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Hang Time Podcast (Episode 85) With Brian Schmitz and Brian Windhorst

HANG TIME PLAYOFF HEADQUARTERS – Just when you thought things couldn’t get any crazier on the Dwight Howard front, free agency kicked off and a whole new round of madness began for the Orlando Magic and their superstar center and his season-long trade request to Brooklyn.

And you can stop scanning the list … Howard is not actually a free agent right now. He gave that opportunity up in March when he waived his opt-out clause to remain with the Magic one more season.

Yet somehow, he’s still become the center of attention in the midst of the free-agent frenzy going on now.

That’s why we tracked down Orlando Sentinel Magic insider Brian Schmitz, who has been there ever step of the way since Howard was drafted in 2004, to help us make sense of the story that never seems to run out of plot twists and turns.

While Howard is fighting to escape the Southeast Division, new Hawks general manager Danny Ferry is trying to reshape it by dramatically altering the Hawks’ roster. In his fist eight days on the job he shed $105 million in contracts (trading Joe Johnson to the Nets and Marvin Williams to the Jazz) and put the Hawks in a position to be major players in free agency next summer, when Howard and Chris Paul could headline the crop of stars teams are stepping over each other to sign.

Brian Windhorst of ESPN.com knows Ferry well, from their shared time in Cleveland (Ferry ran the Cavaliers and Windhorst covered them better than anyone for the Akron Beacon Journal and later, The Plain Dealer), and joins us to discuss Ferry’s master plan.

Check out all that and more on Episode 85 of the Hang Time Podcast featuring Brian Schmitz of the Orlando Sentinel and Brian Windhorst of ESPN.com.

LISTEN HERE:

As always, we welcome your feedback. You can follow the entire crew, including the Hang Time Podcast, co-hosts Lang Whitaker of SLAM Magazine and Sekou Smith of NBA.com, as well as our superproducer Micah Hart of NBA.com’s All Ball Blog and the best engineer in the business, Jarell “I Heart Peyton Manning” Wall.

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Twilight Zone Orlando: Yet Another Trade Request From Dwight Howard?





HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – As if things couldn’t get any crazier for Dwight Howard and the Orlando Magic this year, the start of free agency brought the latest and most bizarre twist to their saga (and that’s saying a lot when you consider where this story has been since December).

According to multiple reports, Howard has asked the Magic for a trade to Brooklyn, the second time he’s asked to be traded since training camp. And per ESPN The Magazine‘s Chris Broussard, that’s just a part of an increasingly outrageous rift between Howard and the Magic:

Dwight Howard met with new Orlando Magic general manager Rob Hennigan on Friday and told him he wants to be traded to the Brooklyn Nets, according to sources with knowledge of the situation.

Howard and Hennigan sat down face to face in Los Angeles, meeting for the first time since Hennigan became Orlando’s GM nearly two weeks ago.

Hennigan was noncommital when Howard told him he wants to be traded to Brooklyn, sources said.

Hennigan did not tell Howard whether he would trade him. His intentions were merely to hear the thoughts of the Magic superstar.

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