FanPost

Anyone Remember This Dwight??


This is an Orlando Sentinel article awhile back... I miss this Dwight! Anyone else remember this?

Orlando Magic all-star center Dwight Howard, publicly addressing his long-term future for the first time, told the Sentinel on Monday that he'd love to finish his career in Orlando.

As long as Orlando wants him, he says.

"It is an interesting question," Howard said. "You know what? I'll be here as long as the fans want me to be here. They have a lot of do with it."

Howard, 23, is a five-year veteran and has four more years left on his $85-million contract.

"I tell my friends this: I want to stay here. It will be based upon the city. We want the support of our fans. That's what carries us, that's what inspires us, that's what keeps us motivated.

"You want to feel loved. That's the biggest thing. I show my love to the community. I show my love to this city by stepping on the floor every night and playing as hard as I can. That's all we want back."

Howard said he was bothered by the few times during the season in which fans booed the club. He also was upset when a few "Rally Rackets" were tossed on the floor after a Game 1 loss to the Philadelphia 76ers in the first round of the playoffs.

While he expresses his commitment to Orlando, Howard says he understands Cleveland Cavaliers star LeBron James -- who can become a free agent in 2010 -- weighing his options.

"You just don't want to say something. You want to wait and weigh your options," Howard said. "Everybody can say that LeBron should stay in Cleveland. That's where he's from. But you have to think about what's best for you and your family.

"That's the way I look at it."

Howard helped oust James and the Cavs in the Eastern Conference finals to secure the Magic's first trip to the NBA Finals since Shaquille O'Neal led the club to a title shot in 1995.

Howard said he realizes the devastating impact Shaq's exit after the next season had on Orlando as a city and a franchise. O'Neal left as a free agent to join the Los Angeles Lakers -- the Magic's opponent in this season's Finals, oddly enough -- before being traded to the Miami Heat by the Lakers in 2004.

Depending on whom you believe, Shaq left the Magic because he always wanted to be a Laker; the club tried to low-ball him financially; and/or he was upset after an opinion poll in the Sentinel revealed most readers/fans didn't think he was worth a mega-contract.

Howard said the history of Shaq's departure would play a role in his re-signing with the Magic "a little bit."

"My responsibility is to my family first, then the organization and then my city. I will never turn my back on this city as long as they don't turn their back on me. I've always been down for this city. I've always represented Orlando, whatever it is," he said.

"I've always wanted to see Orlando on top because we've always been overlooked -- not just as a basketball franchise -- but as a city. I do a lot for the community, especially in the African American community, because of what goes on. I try to do my best. One thing I said [when he was drafted in 2004], whatever city I go to, I'd always try to do my best to change it.

"So I love this place. I want to stay here."

As far as the Magic franchise's responsibility in his future, Howard clearly wants to play with a contender.

"As a franchise, we all have to take on a championship mentality. That's the thing I've been telling [General Manager] Otis [Smith] and [team president] Bob [Vander Weide] that we have to have a championship mentality every day," he said.

"We have to bring that mentality to our city and show our city that we're champions. Whatever we do, we have to do it like we're champions. That's when people say the Magic are serious."

TRUST ME... The Fans Still Want You HERE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

This FanPost was made by a member of the Orlando Pinstriped Post community, and is to be treated as the opinions and views of its author, not that of the blogger or blog community as a whole.

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