With Dwight Howard choosing potential over legacy, the second chapter of the Dwightmare comes to a close. The question on a lot of fans minds is whether Dwight Howard has replaced Lebron James in the “diva-seeking-an-audience-with-the-world” category. In the summer of 2010, everyone thought they knew where James was going; only a few truly knew. The same probabilities bounced around all of the major sports venues, with odds posted on Bleacher Report articles boasting thousands of views.
Is this a case of the recency effect?
Are we more perturbed by Howard because it is a fresh whiff of the sanctimonious grandstanding that has become en vogue in the NBA? I gather all such emotional decisions garner equal ire. There is a tendency to get upset at the decisions of others, rife with rationalizing about why we are so invested. Should we be upset about Dwight Howard holding teams hostage for two summers in a row?
Perhaps, but maybe not for the reasons we think.
The search for greener pastures is not specific to Howard, or James. Both are dominant at their position, and in James’ case, probably the most dominant two-way player on the planet. They want to win rings. They want to be able to say that they not only played at the highest level, but that they also achieved and were champions among the very best. This sentiment, in a vacuum, is something that all people who aspire to the best in their field feel and exude.
The difference in this case is the public forum in which both players decide to make their decisions known.
There is a sense of wanting everyone to know what is going on, to have us all wait with bated breath, but then not to be judged or criticized for the manner with which they conducted themselves. Both trumped-up ceremonies will create lasting marks on the careers of both players. The sheer fact that we think of the Dwightmare as an enduring legacy reminds us of its potency; just as we recall Howard’s waffling in Orlando, we also can see James sitting in front of the camera announcing that he was “taking his talents to South Beach” with a crowd of children from the Boys & Girls Club in the background.
Action speaks louder than words.
I think this kind of grandstanding (with Howard and James being the most prominent in recent memory, but certainly not the only superstar free agents to rock the boat) has set a new bar in terms of what is required after a media meltdown. The process has become secondary to the form. You can waffle and demand what you will, as long as you deliver.