- Ric Bucher, NBA Reporter, ESPN The Magazine Senior Writer
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DWIGHT HOWARD goes for long walks these days. It's all he can do since having back surgery April 20 to repair a herniated disk. Well, not all. The 26-year-old can also surf the web and take in the blowback of the most tumultuous season of his eight-year career. To review: He asked Orlando to trade him (only to later waive his early-termination option), endured a public feud with his coach and suffered his back injury three weeks before the playoffs. Here he answers some of his more contentious critics for us -- and you.
"Turning our best assets into Turkoglu and crap, trading for Arenas, re-signing Jason Richardson -- all were done in the name of keeping Dwight happy. All were terrible ideas. You could argue they've made it harder to keep Dwight because they made the roster worse. Firing Stan doesn't seem any different to me." Posted on orlandopinstripedpost.com
HOWARD: "My job is to play hard no matter who is on the team or on the floor. I'm supposed to make everybody better, no matter who they are. I did believe, despite everything, we had enough talent to win a championship if everybody believed we could. I will always be a firm believer that faith without works is dead."
"Howard walked in the room, hugged Stan Van Gundy and denied to the media that he ever told the Magic he wanted Stan Van Gundy fired. Awkward." Posted on thebiglead.com
HOWARD: "It was very awkward. But you live and you learn. I don't think I would ever do that again. I don't know where what Stan heard came from. We talked about it a couple of times. Then we talked about how we both felt, and it was one of the best talks we ever had. We've forgiven each other. We're ready to move on."
"Dwight is turning into the Brett Favre of the NBA. Dwight's a nice guy, and if he played it right, he wouldn't have accumulated much animosity from his Orlando fan base for leaving a horribly managed team. But after jerking us around all season, he might end up with the same fate as Shaq and be intensely loathed by Orlando. I guess the moral of the whole fiasco is that silence is golden." Posted on Grantland.com
HOWARD: "Re-signing was a very tough decision, for one. Looking at athletes in the past, no matter what sport it might be, we can all say what we would do from the outside, but you never know what you would do in that situation until you're in it. I'm a young guy. This was a learning experience. The silent approach would've been the best way. My love for Orlando is what caused me to go back and forth."
"Howard cannot stay in Orlando, because he appears to hold power over the Magic -- and more threateningly, he doesn't know what to do with the power." Posted on celticsblog.com
HOWARD: "My power lives on the court. My power comes when I put on my uniform. That's my power. That other power is for management. I don't want to decide who plays or who's on the team or who coaches us. I don't want that power."
In ESPN The Magazine's "Clearing the boards" column, Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard responds to his online critics.