The Orlando Magic organization is supposed to be run like any other professional sports franchise.
The GM makes decisions regarding personnel. He gives the team assembled to a coach, who does his best to put a winning product out on the court. The owner pays for it all.
But the Magic aren’t like most other franchises, because they have a superstar who thinks he is bigger than the game.
Dwight Howard has been the coach, general manager and star player in Orlando for about two years now. He has been holding the entire organization hostage as it tries to appease a flip-flopping All-World center who can’t seem to make up his mind. This is just another chapter in a growing narrative of selfish, me-first NBA players who just refuse to play with the cards they’re dealt. He's trying to fix the deck.
First, Howard wanted to test the waters of free agency this summer. Then, he picked up the player option for the final year of his deal. Now, he wants out. He had a coach and a general manager fired.
Sure, he’s a difference maker on both ends of the court. He’s one of the best in the world at clogging up the lane. But if I ran the Magic, Dwight Howard would have been gone a long time ago.
There’s no sense in catering to a player’s every need when a team can get a good package of players in return. Reports say Orlando could get up to three first-round picks in addition to two or three serviceable players in exchange for Howard, which seems like fair compensation for someone who has no one’s interests in mind but his own. A team will never win like that.
We have seen this in the NBA before, and it won’t be the last time, either. But now, a mantra similar to this is shifting over to college football.
Robert Nkemdiche, the consensus No. 1 recruit for the class of 2013, caused a real stir when he said his commitment to Clemson, which he made in mid-June, would only be locked in if the Tigers offered a scholarship to his high school teammate, safety Ryan Carter.
The defensive end has since backtracked on his comments, saying he would love to play with his teammate, but he will still attend Clemson if Carter is not offered (seems like he's just covering for himself).
As a rising high school senior, Nkemdiche is already holding a college football program hostage. If the school offers Carter, it will set a terrible precedent for the school and the sport in general, so they can’t give him one. If they don’t give him an offer, which they likely won’t and shouldn’t, they risk losing the nation’s best prospect.
This ugly precedent would allow high school athletes to have control over things they shouldn’t have control over -- like what other players get scholarship offers. It’s not fair to the staff and it’s not fair to the other players on the roster. And once elite prospects start to catch onto this, you may as well just give their parents the headsets and a spot in the coaches booth. While you're at it, let them pick the plays and make the schedule.
No one person should ever be bigger than a team or a program. No one’s skill or talent should be able to dictate what goes on in the front office. But as players continue to buy into how good they actually are, they believe they mean more to a team than the team itself.
Clemson, take a stand and tell the kid to walk if he doesn’t get what he wants. No matter how good Nkemdiche is, the program will suffer the consequences down the road if the Tigers’ staff gives in and takes his teammate. This will show high schoolers that if they go to Clemson, they have a substantial amount of control over things that go on in the program.
Orlando, get rid of Howard and move on. The franchise will take a hit for a year or two after losing the league’s best center, but it will finally be free from the clutches of Howard’s tyranny. It can finally operate as a normal organization again, where the GM makes personnel decisions and the coach tells the players what to do. Not the other way around.