Martin Fennelly Columns
Magic's Howard shouldn't blame media if he departs
That's one nutty town over there. It seems that I-4 flyspeck and never-to-be-high-speed rail partner, the city of Orlando, is trying to get rid of Dwight Howard, or at least the media over there are, or at least the writers at the Orlando Sentinel are, according to tweets posted by a source close to Dwight Howard: Dwight Howard. I knew it was the media, I just knew. Over here, we in the Tampa Bay media are much too busy trying to drive Steven Stamkos, Evan Longoria and Josh Freeman out of town to pay much mind to Orlando, but Dwight the NBA basketball superstar, the so-called Superman, is national news from here to Los Angeles to New York to New Jersey, from the Lakers to the Clippers to the Knicks to the Nets and … did we leave anyone out?And now Superman thinks the media want to send him packing. Clark Kent wouldn't have thought that, but then again, he was media. You see, Howard can opt out of his contract with the Magic after next season, free agency and all, and it seems he is already extremely tired of stories speculating on his future, which began as soon as the Magic flopped in the playoffs, so he speculated himself in a Twitter message late Monday night: "Y does it seem like the writers of Orlando sentinel are tryna push me out of Orlando with dumb articles." Howard added, "Same things you guys did to Shaq …" Howard added, "I jus don't want Orlando fans to believe them. Cuz they don't know. I love my city." Dwight, I served with the Orlando media. I know the Orlando media. The Orlando media are my friend. You are no Jack Kennedy. The Orlando media have nothing to do with this. This is your call, young Dwight, whether you stay in Orlando or go the way of Shaq. By the way, Shaq made Shaq leave town, Shaq and Orlando ownership, which refused to consider paying Shaq $100 million, about 19 minutes before Juwan Howard got even more than that. The Magic, they went all in with Penny Hardaway. Nice call there, Magic. Also by the way, my friend Mike Bianchi is a columnist at the Sentinel and one of the best in the business, but I never knew he had the power to make men leave cities. Me, I wouldn't be able to even get Aqib Talib to slide over one seat at his next court hearing. Mikey, I salute you! Seriously, though, Howard now has his built-in excuse if he gives Orlando "the Shaq" and leaves. The media made me do it. What is he, Dwight Coward? Be a man, young Dwight. If you want to go and get yourself a championship dancing partner or two, like LeBron did, like Carmelo did, have at it. It's all the rage. If you want to go to L.A. and end up in worse movies than Shaq, if such a thing is possible, go for it. But don't use the media as an excuse. Bianchi made some great points about how the Sentinel writes mostly positive stuff about Dwight. I got news for you, Dwight: Most media write mostly positive stuff about their stars. Why, Bianchi wrote just a few weeks ago that Howard was an even greater defensive force than Bill Russell (a delusional idea, but nonetheless pro-Dwight). Bianchi also notes that Sentinel columnist George Diaz wrote that Howard, not Chicago's Derrick Rose, should have been voted NBA MVP. The Sentinel makes all kinds of nice with Howard, writing about what a charitable, caring 25-year-old he is -- and he is. He does lots of great stuff around Orlando, and somehow it ends up in the newspapers and on TV. My friend Mike also noted that the tech folks at his paper, OrlandoSentinel.com, even designed a Web page called PleaseStayDwight.com Remember, kiddies and history buffs, a half-century ago, this very Orlando Sentinel apparently sat on one of the biggest stories in state history, when this guy apparently swore the paper to secrecy when he was poised to buy up around 27,000 acres of land east of town in order to build a small amusement facility. His name was Walt something. Hey, any self-respecting city, or maybe even newspaper, with a new $500 million downtown sports arena in danger of becoming a 20,000-seat broom closet, would get behind its one and only star. I myself am currently on a hunger strike until the Rays get a new ballpark. It has been almost nine hours. It's all about making a stand. By the way, does candy corn count? You've got to cover the biggest story in your town. So what if Dwight Howard is steamed. Hey, Dwight, I have a great idea, a way to really stick it to the media: Stay in Orlando! That'll learn 'em.
The Daystarter: Sunny and dry Memorial Day; meet the caretaker who looks after the fallen; uncertainty over the education budget; why did St. Pete close the Albert Whitted sewage treatment plant?