Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Dwight Howard is a class act

Orlando loves you, Dwight. Please stay!
Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard has been the subject of a lot of speculation about whether he'll stay with the Magic or jump to another team after he becomes a free agent next year.

I'm a big fan of Dwight Howard - not only is he an amazing player, but he's also a great role model for all those kids wearing #12 jerseys. He does a lot of charity work, more than just the bare minimum expected of professional athletes. He has managed to avoid the troubles and scandals that often plague NBA stars and speaks openly and proudly of his Christian faith. In my opinion, Dwight Howard is an asset, not just for the team, but for the entire Orlando community.

To thank his fans for all their support, and to reassure everyone that he would love to stay in town, Howard sent out a message on Twitter, saying "Ok folks. I wanna have a super BBQ tomorrow in Orlando. I need a big place. Where we can play football and have waterguns and eat. And a Dj. [Need] suggestions." Someone helped him make arrangements for Bill Frederick Park at Turkey Lake and by all accounts, the event was a huge success. Going back and reading Howard's Twitter feed from the past few days, he definitely enjoyed himself and was thrilled to spend the time with his fans.

Dwight Howard with fans at Bill Frederick Park on Monday
In interview after interview, Howard has reiterated how much he loves playing for the Magic and loves Orlando. Remember, he entered the NBA straight out of high school, so Orlando has been his home for his entire career and adult life. Contract negotiations being a vicious game, he would lose his bargaining power if he just came out and agreed to stay forever, but it really looks like the ball is literally in the Magic management's court to make a decent offer for his contract extension. Howard is not looking for an excuse to leave; he's looking to stay.

It sounds like the deciding factor will be if the Magic can build a decent supporting cast around Howard:

I don't care if the Magic have to hold a bake sale, they need to do what they can to get some solid players around Howard. Orlando doesn't want to be the next Cleveland.

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