Gregg Darbyshire, the chief executive of ProCamps Worldwide, feels it’s time to defend Dwight Howard.
Darbyshire has read and heard all the handwringing about Howard bowing out of his youth basketball camp this upcoming Monday and Tuesday in Orlando. Howard’s decision has been criticized in multiple media outlets, including the Orlando Sentinel and ESPN’s “Pardon the Interruption.”
So Darbyshire on Thursday reached out to the Sentinel, which previously had asked ProCamps and Howard’s representatives for comment.
“He’s given back to underprivileged kids and he’s done a ton of mission work, and I don’t think those things can go unnoticed,” Darbyshire said in a phone interview.
ProCamps runs Howard’s annual camp, and ProCamps officials have told registrants that Howard will remain in southern California to continue to rehabilitate his back after surgery April 20 to repair a herniated disk and remove disk fragments. Many people are skeptical about that; many believe that Howard, who wants a trade from the Magic, is using his surgically repaired back as an excuse for not returning to Orlando.
Families who signed up for the camp can receive a full refund of the $199 fee.
Darbyshire about a dozen families have asked for a refund.
That leaves about 140 participants, but Darbyshire noted that about two-thirds of those children never had to pay a fee at all. Darbyshire said about 80 of those children already had their fee covered by nonprofit groups because those children’s families can’t afford to send them to a camp.
Darbyshire also said that, until now, Howard has never missed a day of his camps and always has donated his proceeds to local charities.
Magic first-round draft pick Andrew Nicholson will appear at the camp in Howard’s place.
Darbyshire said ProCamps asked Nicholson to participate because he’s represented by agent Mark Bartelstein, and ProCamps runs other events that feature Bartelstein’s clients, including Houston Texans running back Arian Foster.
“We just thought for a guy who was new to the city it would be a great platform for him to be involved in,” Darbyshire said of Nicholson. “When we offered it he was all over it.”
Howard will not attend a previously scheduled ProCamps event in Beijing on Sept. 1-2, Darbyshire said.Follow Josh Robbins on Twitter at @JoshuaBRobbins and e-mail him at email@example.com. Subscribe to our Orlando Magic newsletter at OrlandoSentinel.com/joinus.