NBA star Dwight Howard has been blocking shots and dunking over competitors since he made his league debut in 2004. Howard is known for his fun loving personality both off and on the court. Until recently, Howard’s humor and charisma was one of the many things that fans across the world admired about him. Howard’s constant level of silliness really made himself stand out from the majority of NBA players that took themselves too seriously. That off course was until recently…
Dwight Howard who started his career with the Orlando Magic in 2004 became one of the most popular and successful players in the franchise’s history. On many occasions Howard saw himself being compared to Shaquille O’Neal, who also started his career in Orlando. Ever since Howard began speculating free agency back in the 2010-2011 NBA season, his indecisiveness that was displayed during this process, along with his openness to leaving the Magic while still wearing their uniform night in and night out, was seen as childish and unprofessional through the eyes of NBA fans.
It seemed that ever other day for nearly two seasons Howard flipped back and forth between deciding which team he wanted to play for. One day it was the Brooklyn Nets (New Jersey Nets at the time), the next day, Howard verbally favored the Los Angeles Lakers. It would be a week later when he “decided” that Orlando was the city that he wanted to play for. Howard literally tortured his fans with his indecisiveness.
This all escalated when Howard agree to sign an extension with the Orlando Magic during the 2011-2012 season, convincing most of his fans that he was staying. It wasn’t long until word got out that Howard wanted the Orlando Magic coach Stan Van Gundy fired. How did the word get out? Well, Van Gundy said it himself. Howard’s request was met as the Orlando Magic fired Van Gundy after an early bounce from the playoffs. But the situation blew up even further when Howard asked to be traded afterwards. This was met with a negative reaction from the NBA fan base, who criticized Howard for not only the unprofessional-like behavior he showed while handling his free agency, but for playing politics behind the scenes.
Howard’s second request was met as the Orlando Magic dealt him to the Los Angeles Lakers this past off-season. With the Lakers struggling to land a playoff spot, LA fans have grown frustrated with Howard as they blamed his terrible work ethic, along with his child-like behavior for the Lakers performance this season. Howard has been called out on several occasions by Lakers guard Kobe Bryant. Bryant and Howard have gotten into several verbal altercations, as Bryant had grown frustrated with what appears to be a lack of effort on Howard’s part.
It’s hard to believe that a superstar like Dwight Howard who was the top vote getter in the 2010 NBA All Star Game, has become one of the most disliked figures in professional basketball. It seems that his child like innocence that once won him over with the fans, is the very same that is turning them away now. It’s clear that this has had a negative effect on Howard’s public image. Whether or not it will cost him in endorsement deals will remain to be seen. One thing is clear, Howard have better start thinking of ways to rebuild his image before this PR nightmare escalates.
(Note: Photo is from CBSsports official website)