Another show of hands for anyone who thinks Andrew Bynum would look pretty good in a Magic uniform today?
Howard, the always healthy and mercurial center for the Orlando Magic, is hurt and out for the year.
Bynum has blossomed recently as the Lakers' top gun with Kobe Bryant missing significant playing time with injuries. Bynum is meeting the expectations of a great player, instead of simply toying with his potential.
Now take a step back to mid-March, when the Magic and the Lakers reportedly had serious conversations about a deal that would have brought Bynum to Orlando in a package for Howard on the eve of the March 15 trade deadline.
Since taking sworn dispositions between the parties is impossible, there's no way to determine whether the Magic were truly considering this deal or perhaps bluffing to force Howard not to opt-out of his contract this season (see dueling diva issues with Kobe Bryant).
This much is true: Howard waived his opt-out clause, there was a few days of momentary bliss when folks like myself commended Howard for his loyalty, and then it's pretty much been a disaster from a psychological and physical standpoint since then.
I suppose there are more toxic relationships out there, but you will likely find them on Jerry Springer, bodyguards and fists of fury optional.
Bad relationships abound everywhere. Dwight and the Magic. Dwight and the coach. Dwight and the media. Dwight and the fans.
The most important aspect of any relationship is trust.
And it's shot everywhere you look.
And let's not make Howard the fall guy for everything here. How can Howard trust the Magic when some people in the organization are leaking tidbits of what are allegedly private conversations? There is a mole somewhere, and all that does is kill the trust factor between the team and the franchise player.
There are most certainly a number of fans still buying into the 'do anything to keep the superstar happy' philosophy, but I suspect a greater number of fans are just looking for a way out at this point.
It was a nice run. Seven years. An NBA Finals appearance and some great playoff moments. Dwight has been a force, winning the NBA Defensive Player of the Year three times.
Now his presence has become a bit of a farce. As our friends from Wikipedia say: "Farces are often highly incomprehensible plot-wise (due to the large number of plot twists and random events that often occur), but viewers are encouraged not to try to follow the plot in order to avoid becoming confused and overwhelmed."
Honk if that's the way you feel as a Magic fan trying to decipher all the quirky plot twists with Dwight and the Magic this season.
"Petulant child," one of my friends noted recently. "Magic fell for it. Should have let him go."
Sounds like it's time to embrace the memories, shake hands and take a forward-thinking approach.
Maybe it's Bynum. Maybe it's Kentucky center Anthony Davis. Maybe it's somebody else.
All the back-and-forth sniping in the last weeks, coupled with Howard's back surgery — although not deemed serious — changes the dynamics moving forward, of course.
The Magic will need to make a fairly quick decision — perhaps as early as the NBA Draft — unless they are willing to hop aboard the crazy train again for another ride.
Only this time, I suspect a good number of Magic fans won't be willing to punch their ticket heading toward dysfunction junction.
The smart journey either leads to a long-term commitment with Howard, or a divorce that probably should have happened long before everybody started throwing the fine china at each other.
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