Dwight Howard should leave the Magic

I hate being the bearer of bad news, I really do. It's like telling a gal you want to breakup, its often awkward and leaves both parties with a bitter taste in their mouth. But its finally time for Howard to ask for a divorce from the city of Orlando. Yes, I am a fan of the Magic. Yes, I do live in Orlando. And I do understand that Howard means everything to this franchise, that he is the greatest player in its history and now after erasing the pain of Shaquille O'Neal leaving for Los Angeles and rings of his own, Howard could potentially do the same, leaving Orlando high and dry. But this isn't about Orlando or the Magic or the history of the Magic. This is about Howard. And if Howard is really all about winning championships, then his best chance of winning one isn't here. Sure, he could resign with the Magic, have a lasting legacy as the greatest player in the history of the Magic and have a statue built for him outside the new Amway Center. But its about happiness.

All those great things assumes Howard likes Reggie Miller. That he likes being compared to John Stockton. That he wants to be like his assistant coach Patrick Ewing. Because they are all a part of an exclusive, unwanted club: the greatest NBA players to never win an NBA championship. As dominant as they were, as great as those Hall-of-Famers are remembered, they never won a ring. Sure, they have statues, they are revered by there franchises and they are all in the Hall-of-Fame. But they are remembered for this reason. Even Michael Jordan played for the Washington Wizards. This is a club that you do not want to join.

Howard needs help. Jordan had Pippen. O'Neal had Kobe. Magic had Worthy. Bird had McHale. The list goes on and on. The formula for winning an NBA championship is to have 2 legitmate superstars who are both certifiably in the top 10 players in the league. The second formula is to have a "big 3" involving 3 elite players all in the top 25 players in the league with the ability to complement one another well. Sure you can site a few exceptions: the 2004 Pistons are the first to come to mind. But nearly every NBA team that has been crowned NBA champion has followed one of these 2 formulas. Even the Dallas Mavericks did last year with Dirk Nowitzki, Hall-of-Famer Jason Kidd and All-NBA Defensive player Tyson Chandler. Howard does not nor has he ever, had a sidekick to be the Robin to his Batman. Nor has he ever been surrounded by 2 elite players at there respective position. The best the Magic could ever muster was a 2-time All-Star in Rashard Lewis, the most improved player of the year Hedo Turkoglu and in his only All-Star season Jameer Nelson. All were at the very peak of there abilities back in 2009 and it still was not enough. And you can see why. None of them have ever been good enough to be considered among the top-10 or even top-25 players in the league. Heck, I question if any of them have ever even been considered among the top 50 players in the league. 2009 was the perfect culmination for the Magic and it was still not enough. And there in lies the problem.

With the way the Magic are constructed now, they can not win a championship. That is a certifiable fact. They have players that are not going to get better, but only worst. Just look at the roster: a 32-year old Hedo Turkoglu, a 30-year old declining Jameer Nelson, a past his prime 31-year old Jason Richardson. All these players are on the wrong side of 30, and all of them if not already will be past there prime in the coming years. Even with an in there prime JJ Redick and Glen Davis, there isn't much room for improvement on this roster. The only player with which further improvement could come from is starting power forward is Ryan Anderson. And there in lies the problem. The Magic as now constructed, are good enough to make the playoffs but not good enough to win a championship. They are stuck in the purgatory of being in the second-tier of teams. Along with that, the Magic have no chance for improving through free agency or the draft. Their record of drafting is horrid since drafting Howard, from Fran Vasquez to Daniel Orton, no one other than Marcin Gortat and JJ Redick, has proven to be even a capable NBA player. Then, less we forget those same over the top players in Hedo Turkoglu, Jason Richardson, and Jameer Nelson are all signed to long-term contracts taking up the valuable salary cap space that could be used to actually, you know, improve the roster.

General Manager Otis Smith has proved to be among the worst at his job in the NBA. From signing Rashard Lewis to a max-contract, to trading for a past his prime Vince Carter, to trading for a blowen out Gilbert Arenas, his track record for identifying talent is so bad its laughable. And this all comes back to Howard. With the players in hand, with the long-term deals in place, with the management at the top, there is little to no chance of him ever being able to win a championship with the Magic. Ever. And that is the sad reality. The Magic have time and again proven they are incapable of offering Howard any sort of chance of being able to compete for a championship.

So if he's really all about championships, if it is really in his best interest to chase rings and build his brand through the pursuit of championships then the only option is clear. Howard, much to the dismay of Magic fans everywhere, should leave Orlando.

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