“Time to get over it”: The conundrum of Dwight Howard’s departure

Dwight Howard isn’t the first All-star player to leave his team via free agency. He’s not even the first this decade.
LeBron James and Chris Bosh took off on Cleveland and Toronto three years ago. Two years after that, Ray Allen joined them, walking from the Boston Celtics to their chief rivals in the Miami Heat. Steve Nash’s situation wasn’t much different than Shuttlesworth’s when he happily joined up with a Kobe-Pau-Dwight Lakers team just last offseason. Guys like Chris Paul, Deron Williams and Carmelo Anthony didn’t leave their teams via free agency per se, but were dealt to teams when it became apparent that they would depart their teams in a year’s time.
And what follows typically isn’t pretty. After James spurned the Cavaliers on public television in July 2010, Clevelanders took to the streets and burned his jersey to ash. There was never smoke in Denver like those number 23 effigies, but to this day, Carmelo Anthony gets booed every time he touches the ball in the Mile High City. Allen was considered persona non grata by his former championship teammates when he first returned to Boston, as Beantown repeatedly seems to forget his title contributions in their continual jeering every time he returns.
Fans don’t forget. It’s not in their fanatical nature. Leaving a team is akin to a lover packing his or her bags for the more inviting arms of someone with better abs and more money. People take it personally–and after all, how could you not? If you’re investing as much emotion into the game as most ardent fans are, is there any reason why we should expect anything less than a visceral reaction?
(More to come at Silver Screen & Roll)

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