Dwight Howard faces his former Magic team Wednesday at Toyota Center for the third time since forcing his way out in a brutal will-he, won't-he drama of his Dwight-mare decision.
Magic fans and the Magic organization are still largely recovering from that. The team is rebuilding and working its way from the bottom — literally after finishing last year with the league's worst record. Howard meanwhile floundered in Los Angeles and has latched on in Houston.
Time to move on, right?
Well, whenever the Magic come to town or face the Rockets now, the question about Howard is going to come up with his relationship to franchise. And, knowing Dwight Howard, he is going to have things to say.
His latest complaint is about her jersey number.
Howard told Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel that he was a bit upset that the team gave his No. 12 jersey to Tobias Harris just a year after he left the organization:
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. And I was a little bit upset about that.
What Howard likely did not know is that Tobias Harris asked the Magic for No. 12 to honor a friend of his from high school who wore the number and died of leukemia.
Further, controlling a number before the player is retired — much less the team retires the number on its own — is very similar to the prima donna way in which Howard acted his final year in Orlando.
When asked about it again at shootaround Wednesday, Howard said he would like to see his jersey retired in Orlando one day. Despite all the acrimony in his final year, Howard is the team's all-time leading scorer and rebounder and the centerpiece to the most successful four-year run in the franchise's history.
Despite how things ended, we had eight or seven great years. We went to The Finals. A lot of those banners that are in the arena happened when I was there. I was a major part of that. A lot of the records that are there, I put them there.
I hate talking about myself, but I feel like I’ve done a lot, not just for the team but the city and the arena itself and the businesses that were around. There’s a lot of things that happened that didn’t happen before I got there. Our team, we did an excellent job at putting all that stuff together, especially in the community. I was deeply embedded in the community and I feel like one day it should [be retired].
But with all that happened, I can’t control that. All I’ve got to do is win. And, hopefully, when I’m done playing here, I’ll have my jersey retired here.
Magic fans are a long way away from getting to the point where they would accept that. A very long way away. The wound is still very raw and fans are not ready to forgive.
Forever is a long time however, and Howard is an integral part of the team's history. It would be silly to think that his No. 12 jersey will not be hanging from the rafters at some point.
Right now is not the time to talk about it. Howard needs to do a better job mending fences and less of a job reminding Magic fans of the drama they are missing with his daily life.