Friday, August 17, 2012

The Five Stages of Grief: Musings on Dwight Howard from an Orlando Magic Fan

(A week ago, the Orlando Magic traded Dwight Howard to an undisclosed location. It have been CSKA Moscow or something, because I haven't heard any information since then. Anyway, MAMBINO contacted the only living Magic fan outside of central Florida, our own El Mariachi, to give his thoughts on the trade. Having had a week to mire in his his own blue and white pit of despair, we asked him to get a pulse on the feelings of the beleaguered Orlando fanbase) 

The Five Stages of Grief : End of an Era

The Magic are idiots. All I can say is don’t worry, in 8 years when the Magic are good you’ll feel so good about your loyalty.”

11:00pm August 9th – D-12 Day

That was the text I received from my friend while getting in to bed that night. Say what you will, but I didn’t feel the urge to turn the computer and read everything I could about the trade. Instead, I closed my eyes knowing that it was finally over, Dwight was gone and now we, as a fan base, can move on.

I awoke to a nightmare.

Denial [dih-nahy-uhl] - disbelief in the existence or reality of a thing.

What you have to understand first and foremost is that I am happy Dwight is gone. To have such a cloud hovering over the organizing made watching any Magic game unwatchable. I would have the games on mute just to block out the endless commentating on where Dwight would end up. Unless Marv Albert was commentating. I would never mute him. He is a living deity.

So with this trade came a sense of relief, though fleeting as it may be. Because once reality sets back in, the fact that you just lost your only hope for the foreseeable future is like a swift kick to the nuts. And the fact that we literally got NOTHING back for him is like a full blown castration. And our wife has left us. And we’ve lost our inheritance. And our dog was run over.

“The Magic are idiots.”

It’s almost inconceivable that when you have the biggest trading piece of the decade, eclipsed only by LeBron James, you don’t come out with a W in the trade category! Instead of Andrew Bynum and/or Pau Gasol or the couple hundred draft picks the Rockets and Nets were throwing the Magic’s way, we end up with the poor man’s Andre Iguodala, Arron Afflalo (who as of right now is the best scoring option we have at 15.2 ppg last year – kill me now!) and two (of three) lottery protected draft picks, one of which will come in 2017 at the earliest! And Andre Iguodala is already the poor man’s Lebron, so that makes Afflalo the homeless, disease ridden man’s Lebron James.

Every article, report, and news story I have read is in agreement with me. The Magic botched this trade by unloading Dwight to get a team that isn’t terrible, but also isn’t good. And no matter how you look at it, it’s going to be that way for a long time. This trade is analogous to the burrito I’m eating; in the end it all falls apart.

I keep imagining that there is going to be an impromptu press conference where Otis and Stan are going to jump out and say “Sike!” and Dwight will drop down on wires and fly around the room. Right before the publicly execute Gilbert Arenas.

Anger [ang-er] - a strong feeling of displeasure and belligerence aroused by a wrong.

So the Magic didn’t get better, but they also didn’t get as bad as they should have in the deal. I mean, why trade away your only building blocks to get glue and maybe some paint thinner?! Al Harrington is coming off a great year but the guy is 32 and waving his prime goodbye. And this Vucevic kid could be good but best case scenario would yield him becoming the “next” Mehmet Okur.

8 year old Vucevic, “Mommy, when I grow up I want to be just like Mehmet Okur!”

Mrs. Vucevic, “....why?”

What the hell happened out there!?! Being part of a fan base requires you to have faith that your management has your best interests at heart. They want you to be a fan of their organization. Otis “I-don’t-know-what-the-hell-I’m-doing” Smith tested our resolve, and now Rob “I-look-great-in-a-suit/I-look-about-fifteen-years-old” Hennigan has driven us to the edge.

Bargaining [bahr-guhn] - such an agreement as affecting one of the parties: a losing bargain.

“All I can say is don’t worry…”

I think I can wrap my mind around what Hennigan is trying to do here. He wants to use the OKC method of blowing up a team and building through the draft. Hopefully he doesn’t mean the OKC method of one night, without anyone know, taking your team to another city to leave a fan base to die alone. The problem is that we didn’t get really bad. Like REALLY bad, I’m talking Bobcats bad. Or Metta World Peace having a ring bad.

We became mediocre in a blink of an eye, somewhere around a 30 win season I would project. We should be bottoming out while Coach Jacque “What-the-hell-am-I-supposed-to-do-now?!” Vaughn builds up our “better” players into tradeable assets. With the right coaching and the right amount of PT you can’t say that J.J. Redick, Moe Harklesss, Jameer Nelson, and even Vucevic couldn’t turn into valuable trading pieces. We need to bottom out, blow this shit up! And rise from the ashes in 8 years when we get all of our draft picks (FINALLY) and can’t pay the 5 superstars we’ve drafted.

Depression [dih-presh-uhn] - a condition of general emotional dejection and withdrawal; sadness greater and more prolonged than that warranted by any objective reason.

“…in 8 years when the Magic are good you’ll feel so good about your loyalty.”

But that’s the thing, I keep hearing this in my head. Five, eight, ten years, could go by before we are even relevant again. Eight years! I’ll be 33 by then watching the old Miami Heat lose to the Wizards in the second round of the playoffs! But that’s what the organization has done, they have asked forced us to accept the fact that if things don’t drastically change soon, we will be a bottom five team for a long time. Never allowed to die but never allowed to live a normal life.

And that’s a very hard pill to swallow. Especially when you think back to the good times when Dwight would do his Stan impression and Stan would borrow Otis’ size XXXL suit jackets before the game. Think back to 2008-9 when Dwight was his wonderful, smiling self dunking and blocking balls all the way to the Finals. It almost seems like dream now, distant and fading away. And it’s even sadder to look around the league, especially the other teams in the deal, who got substantially better.

Acceptance [ak-sep-tuhns] - the act of taking or receiving something offered.

“…when the Magic are good you’ll feel so good about your loyalty.”

But what can you do? Literally, nothing. It’s the nature of the beast and the true test of fandom I suppose. In the immortal words of Rasheed “The Sheed” Wallace, “Ball don’t lie.” And isn’t that what it’s all about? The NBA and the league will endure and, dare I say, have gotten better through this whole process. I will continue to watch basketball but I’ll be honest, it’s going to be hard to care for the next couple of years.

I’d like to think that eight years from now I will look back at this trade and laugh. I’ll laugh as Dwight’s back fails him over the years and Kobe has to play until he’s 48. I’ll laugh as the Miami Heat win the Finals six years in a row. I’ll laugh when the world finally realizes that Metta World Peace is the herald of the apocalypse. And I’ll laugh as I pop my Prosac and kick back in my virtual reality chair to was the NBA on Facebook via my iPhone 17s.

“The Magic are idiots.”

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