Written by Sean Meyers
A nightmare is defined as an unpleasant dream that can cause a strong emotional response from the mind, typically fear or horror. Nightmares usually only last a few minutes in actuality, even though they may seem to last several hours. Luckily, once we awake, the fear or horror subsides.
A Dwightmare also causes fear or horror for many, although it has lasted much longer. Although today marks only the third day of the NBA free-agency period, the Dwight Howard saga has spanned nearly two years.
Howard, the most dominant and physically gifted center in the past decade, spent most of the 2011-12 season publicly debating his future while playing on a lousy Orlando Magic team. Orlando management, fearful of losing another future Hall of Fame center, seemed poised to appease Howard. This saga seemingly became more of a distraction for both the team and Howard as that season progressed. Howard reportedly wanted out of Orlando, but was afraid that he would be vilified like LeBron James if he left via free agency. Thus, after changing his mind multiple times, he decided to enact a clause to stay in Orlando for another season.
He still was not happy, though, and his clashes with Stan Van Gundy cost the coach his job. Howard also suffered a serious back injury that required surgery.
Last summer, he was traded to the Los Angeles Lakers, in what was seemingly the best-case scenario for his career. He was moved to a championship-caliber team, in a major market, playing for one of the most storied teams in sports history.
Howard returned sooner than expected for his surgery, and was able to play in the season opener. From that point, however, matters only got worse for Howard, both in terms of on-court performance and public relations.
Howard’s struggles epitomized the failures of the Lakers season. Howard, despite flashes of brilliance, struggled with consistency all season long. He looked slower and less athletic from the surgery. He also made sure to complain repeatedly that his back was bothering him. In addition, Howard suffered a shoulder injury that also likely hindered his efficiency. His scoring and rebounding were down considerably from the prior several seasons. Although he still made the All-Star team as a starter and posted impressive numbers, he clearly was not the same player he had been in prior years.
He also clashed with Kobe Bryant and Head Coach Mike D’Antoni. With Kobe injured just prior to the playoffs, Howard had a brief opportunity to show that he could be the franchise player the Lakers expected when they acquired him. Howard failed to lead Los Angeles to even one playoff victory, though, and he lost his composure when he was ejected from the decisive Game 4 against the Spurs.
Moreover, he elected not to sign an extension with the Lakers during the season, allowing the question of his future to constantly loom over him and the team.
In the matter of two seasons, Howard managed to lose the support of both Magic and Lakers fanbases.
As of Monday, Howard became the most sought-after free agent since James. In addition to the Lakers, the Rockets, Hawks, Mavericks, Warriors, Clippers, Cavaliers and Nets have all been linked to Howard over the past year. Rumors indicate that he will determine by Friday where he wants to play, but at this point “it’s still up in the air.”
Howard has now had two years to ponder his future, and he still apparently has no idea of his destination. For the sake of all NBA fans, and sports fans in general, hopefully Howard decides quickly. In my eyes, this has never been a compelling storyline. It becomes more unbearable every day. Too bad the sports world can’t just awake from this Dwightmare.