In Thursday's episode of The Starters, available on NBA.com and for free in the iTunes podcast catalog, the crew reacted to Dwight Howard's return to Amway Center for Wedensday's game between the Orlando Magic and the Houston Rockets. Howard scored 19 points and grabbed 14 rebounds as Houston prevailed over his former club by a 101-89 final. Magic fans booed the former franchise cornerstone throughout the game.
"The boos were fairly loud," Tas Melas says. "I give the Magic crowd a B-plus on that."
"Boo-plus," says Trey Kerby.
Melas also notes that Howard "didn't seem like he was phased by" the boos and suggests that he in fact enjoyed the attention.
The boos also don't phase J.E. Skeets. "Who really cares at this point? I mean, they gave him a video tribute, for crying out loud."
Orlando indeed acknowledged Howard's contributions to the franchise via a video it showed between the first and second quarters. In this game notebook, Orlando Pinstriped Post offered its impressions of that video and the Amway Center atmosphere in general.
From there, the group of NBA experts reflect on the four-team trade in which Orlando unloaded Howard. "They did very, very well," Melas says. Among the pieces the Magic acquired in that trade: Arron Afflalo, its leading scorer; Maurice Harkless, a young forward with potential as an energetic defender; and Nik Vučević, a young seven-footer with rebounding acumen.
"It's astonishing," says Melas. "When you trade a superstar like that, to make out better than the other teams, that just doesn't happen. That's one of the best trades, in terms of trading a superstar, in NBA history."
The Starters airs weekdays on NBA TV at 6 PM Eastern.