For a year now, Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard has seemed to say all the right things when it comes to his pending free agency come July 2012.
He’s always said that he would entertain remaining with the Magic, but that the old collective bargaining agreement did not allow him to sign an extension. But now, Howard is finally being more forthcoming about the fact that Orlando just isn’t a big-enough market for a player of his ability and marketing draw.
He had an interesting conversation with Esquire magazine about what his future may hold.
Esquire: Do you think that the drive to represent, on an iconic level, will be a factor in your free agency? Do you see yourself in a much larger market?
Howard: There’s more you can do in a bigger place. I’m stuck in a tough position because I feel like, right now, where I’m at, I’ve done so much. And I just don’t know what else I can do. I can’t live for everybody else. I don’t know what decision I’m gonna make as of right now. It’s been crazy. Everybody wants me to come here, come play here, come to our team, do this. It’s a great feeling, though, to be wanted.
Esquire: You’re gone. I can feel it.
Howard: The toughest part for me is the city — the people. They’ve got burgers named after me in Orlando, they’ve got a Web site saying, “Please stay.” I love the people in the city. I’ve literally sat on the bench with a towel on my head crying, because I feel the passion in the stands. I just think about what’s going to be best for what I want to accomplish in my life. And I don’t want that door to close on me, wherever that door is. I don’t want it to close.
Hearing those words have to make the Orlando fans hearts just sink because, as Shaquille O’Neal jetted out of town to Los Angeles as soon as he could, it appears Howard will be making the same move next summer.
Contact Terrance Harris at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @Terranceharris