Dwight Howard on the Orlando Magic’s broken promise to him
Back in 2004, the Orlando Magic had their hands on the overall first-round pick for the 2004 NBA draft. With tons of talent to choose from, the Magic decided to bank on an athlete fresh out of high school: Dwight Howard. Howard spent eight years playing with the Magic before he realized it was time for a change.
During the infamous 2011 lock out before the season started, Howard claims to have wanted out of Orlando, after admitting to The Undefeated in an exclusive interview.
“I really hate going back with it. There were a lot of different things that happened in Orlando that people never talked about,” Howard began. “Before the season even started during the lockout, I asked them privately, I even talked to [teammate] Jameer [Nelson] and [then-general manager] Otis [Smith] and I said, ‘Hey, I just want a change in my life. It has nothing to do with [then-coach] Stan Van Gundy. This has nothing to do with the players here in Orlando. It has nothing to do with Orlando itself.’ I just felt I was too comfortable and I wanted more for myself and more for basketball.”
As disappointing as it was to hear the Magic was losing their 2004 first-round pick, they understood and told Howard they would have him traded before the season started. They even prompted Howard to give a farewell to the organization.
“It had nothing to do with the team,” continued Howard. “They said they were going to try to move me. I thought it was going to happen. They came in and said, ‘We’re going to trade you.’ They shook my hand and said, ‘God bless you. You were here for eight years and you did a great job.’ They asked me to go shake my teammates’ hands. I went and shook their hands and told them that the team was going to trade me. I woke up the next day and they said, ‘We’re not going to trade you.’”
As it turned out, that was all a sham. Howard said he wanted to be traded to the Brooklyn Nets, but the Magic had other plans.
“They decided they weren’t going to trade me and that was when all hell broke loose,” Howard remarked. “People said I was doing this in the locker room, doing that. But I’ve never been that kind of guy. I told my agent, ‘Listen, they want me here, so I will just stay here until the end of the season and I’ll make a decision after that. Let’s not fight it. Let’s not go back and forth. Let’s not talk about it.’”
And the rest is NBA history. Hopefully Howard and the Magic organization can one day mend the relationship they once had, as Howard spent his a majority career with them.