"I just think that despite whatever happened, there was a lot of things that I did and that we did as a team, and that number was special down there," Howard said. "And I was a little bit upset about that."
Robbins points out that Harris requested No. 12 as a tribute to a close friend who had died of leukemia at 17 years old, something Howard "likely" didn't know about and cannot be held against him. His flawed thinking, however, is fair game.
Superman spent eight years in Orlando, most of which went by without a hitch. During that time, he established himself as the game's best center, one of the best rebounders, a feared shot-blocker, a three-time Defensive Player of the Year and a six-time All-Star. He also carried the Magic to an NBA Finals appearance in 2009, where they ultimately fell to the Los Angeles Lakers.
Those eight years should serve as fond memories, as a nostalgic shrine to all Howard did for Orlando and all he and the team did together. Courtesy of his long, drawn-out and ugly exit, they don't.
Though Howard can spin his departure however he likes, he didn't just abandon the Magic—he tormented them; he damn near destroyed them.
Stan Van Gundy and Otis Smith lost their jobs. Magic CEO Bob Vander Weide resigned after allegedly drunk-dialing Howard. The big man himself forced Orlando to field multitudes of trade offers before waiving his early termination option in 2012. Soon after, he became unhappy again, and the Magic traded him anyway.
Does Howard see a pattern here? Better yet, does he realize this was all just two years ago?
Wounds created (and then reopened) by Superman haven't yet healed. After how he left, he's lucky the team hasn't publicly banned his jersey from ever being retired.
Everything that happened doesn't change what Howard did and accomplished in Orlando, but it is enough of a reason for the Magic to make attire-related decisions without consulting his legacy first.
One day, that might change. For now, Howard needs to suck it up and realize Orlando's world no longer revolves around the ego that was too big to fit into the Amway Center.
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