Photo: Sam Greenwood/Getty Images
Dwight Howard entered the NBA straight out of high school with enormous promise in 2004.His quick progression to best NBA big man catapulted the Orlando Magic to the top of a short list of yearly championship contenders.
But somewhere along the way Howard grew annoyed with his coach, teammates, and the Magic front office and things quickly soured.
Howard’s trade demands suddenly became an enormous PR mess and his strong standing with fans went downhill fast. It’s gotten so bad, he’s surprisingly taken over LeBron James as enemy No. 1 in basketball circles.
Now, after nearly getting his wish to end up in Brooklyn, it looks like Howard will have to play yet another frustrating season with the Magic.
The Orlando Magic drafted a then soft-spoken, outwardly religious Dwight Howard right out of high school with the first overall pick in 2004
Howard's rookie campaign (12 points, 10 rebounds per game as a teenager) and commitment to getting stronger and developing his post moves early on showed why things were looking bright for Orlando
Orlando made a commitment to building around a 20-year-old Howard in 2006 when they traded away their supposed team leader and highest paid star in Steve Francis
But Howard's coming out party came in 2008 when he put on a show at the Dunk Contest during All-Star weekend
The following year he cemented his place among NBA greats by getting past LeBron's Cavs to reach the NBA Finals, which he lost to Kobe and LA in five games
Howard was now a full-on media star, with his ear-to-ear, little kid-like smile appearing in multiple commercials
After a disappointing Eastern Conference Finals loss to Boston the previous season, a usually happy-go-lucky Howard showed up to training camp with a much more serious demeanor in 2010
Not too long after, Howard's frustrations with not winning a title began to set in as he started ripping his teammates and began voicing his displeasure with coach Stan Van Gundy
With his pending free agency approaching Howard revealed his desire to leave Orlando in an interview with Esquire prior to the 2011 season
After the NBA lockout ended just in time to save the 2011-12 season Howard was constantly rumoured to be on his way to either the Nets or Lakers
There were rumblings that Howard even met with Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov, which would be a clear violation of the NBA's tampering rules since he was still under contract with Orlando
Dwight Howard trade rumours only got nuttier once the season began. Atlanta, Golden State, LA Clippers, and even OKC and Miami were all thrown out as possible destination points
Finally Howard half-committed to the Magic by opting-in to the final year of his deal. But he only did it after Orlando threatened a trade to the Lakers
Just two months later, Howard cemented his fate in Orlando and low popularity with NBA fans everywhere when Van Gundy told the world his superstar wanted him fired in a very awkward press conference
Orlando decided they needed to clean house after another disappointing playoff performance, firing the coach and GM, and committing to trading Howard away
A blockbuster trade to the Brooklyn Nets looked imminent, but the sign-and-trade complications made it impossible to pull off and the Nets decided to move on
With Brooklyn out and LA content with the addition of Steve Nash, Houston looks like the only semi-kinda-not-really plausible landing point now
But the likeliest scenario is Howard plays most, if not all, of the 2012-13 season in Orlando to a chorus of boos, the team keeps falling apart and misses the playoffs, and he leaves next summer with an even worse reputation than he has right now.
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