Loyalty Over Rings

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By Brad Shulkin (ChicagoSportsWeekly)

The 2012 NBA trade deadline came and went. The Dwight Howard season-long saga ended in the not so dramatic fashion that most of us could have expected. His decision to not opt out of his current contract and instead remain with the Orlando Magic through next season showed loyalty to the organization that drafted him almost eight years ago, something LeBron James failed to recognize during his Decision.

Howard’s decision probably saved the Magic organization from years of losing, as he is the reason the team continues to win. Aside from him, a supporting cast of Ryan Anderson and Hedo Turkoglu doesn’t form a team that could take down the Bulls or Heat in the Eastern Conference Finals. Although the Magic have beaten the Heat twice in three possible games this season, I don’t see them pulling the upset in a seven game series. Just look at the Bulls last year when they swept the Heat in the regular season and lost in the playoffs to them in five games.

Although we can all say that the Magic are better after this year’s trade deadline, since having Superman is better than not, they are still not in the position to win, as they failed to add another star that could assist Howard down the stretch.

Out of all the teams in the NBA, the New Jersey Nets had the largest effect on Howard’s decision, and that’s not a good thing. If you remember last season, the Nets sent the Utah Jazz young talent in Derrick Favors, Devin Harris and two first-round draft picks for all-star point guard Deron Williams. It looks like a whole lot to give up, but it was all in the best interest of the organization, as their plan was to lure Dwight Howard in the summer of 2012 into playing with Williams in Brooklyn, where the team will be moving next season.

Well, that plan is out the door, and so is Williams. Williams is a free agent after this season, and all indications point to him heading back home to play for the Dallas Mavericks, the team he grew up watching. The Nets will head into their new arena next season with no superstar to headline their team, the worse possible scenario anyone could have drawn up. The Nets lost a lot of young talent and years of rebuilding with nothing to show for it. Dwight Howard might have made his hometown Magic very happy, but he probably just hurt the Nets franchise for a very long time.

Even when the time comes again for Dwight to make the decision between loyalty and winning, it is going to be very hard for the Nets to recruit him, as their team will probably be worse than the Magic come this time next season. I guess the saying “money gets you everything you want in life” is not always true. Sorry, Mikhail Prokhorov.

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March 23, 2012 · 6:00 pm

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