Rashid Umar is an online media professional who specializes in web content production, social media marketing, and search engine optimization. You can connect with Rashid via social media or on his personal website at www.rashidumar.com.
In Orlando, Florida, the “Dwight-mare” is now over, but the reality of something more damaging has begun to set in.
After agreeing to trade franchise center Dwight Howard to the Los Angeles Lakers late Thursday night, fans of the Orlando Magic are now reminded of the frustration (or hurt) of losing yet another superstar player to the glitz and glamor of Tinseltown.
To understand why I’m making this comparison, let’s take a look back:
During the summer of 1996, a then free agent Shaquille O’Neal had completed his fourth season in the league, all with the Magic, and was weighing his options of signing a long-term deal with Central Florida’s only NBA team or going elsewhere.
The season ended with the young and talented Magic losing in the Eastern Conference Finals to the Michael Jordan-led Chicago Bulls in a sweep. As it turned out, that loss was the least of the team’s issues.
Apparently, there had been some rumblings of a power struggle between the NBA’s original self-proclaimed “Superman” and coach Brian Hill. Shaq claimed that Hill was not respected by the players and preferred that he be fired. Does this sound familiar?
Then, there was a riff between O’Neal and his running mate Anfernee “Penny” Hardaway (perhaps a precursor to his feud with Kobe Bryant) who had allegedly let it be known that he considered himself the team’s leader and didn’t want Shaq to be paid a higher salary.
There was also the infamous fan poll in the Orlando Sentinel newspaper which asked if the big fella was worth the $115 million that the Magic was prepared to offer him as he hit free agency, to which 91% of the respondents said “no.” Ouch.
These issues and others led O’Neal to both the Sunshine State for the warmer temperature of Southern California.
In the case of Dwight Howard, he’d grown frustrated with the Magic organization’s inability to surround him with quality talent. He’d also grown tired of Head Coach Stan Van Gundy and wanted him fired — he got his wish. In fact, the entire front office was overhauled in an attempt to appease “Superman II”, but he made it clear that he’d rather move on.
So, the small town who fancies themselves as “The City Beautiful” has lost yet another big time star to the NBA’s golden standard on the West Coast. Fans of the team, if there are many left, are probably wondering why… again.
I’d say don’t fret, the Magic do have a track record of drafting or signing players who develop into stars like: O’Neal, Penny Hardaway, Tracy McGrady, Ben Wallace, Grant Hill, and Howard… wait, all of those guys willingly left… oh. Well, cheer up Orlando, at least you still have Mickey Mouse, eh?
Written by Rashid Umar