Magic make it personal by beating, embarrassing Howard in upset win
LOS ANGELES -- One by one, the Orlando Magic walked over to the Lakers bench, and embraced the amiable big man who left them in August. One by one, they chatted with him and laughed with him and showed how much they missed him. And then, one by one, they said goodbye and good luck to their old friend Earl Clark.
The other amiable big man who went from Orlando to Los Angeles three months ago was already gone, down the tunnel and into the locker room, without so much as a handshake. Dwight Howard fled the court Sunday night, upstaged by the organization he paralyzed and the team he abandoned, in a game that will sting far more than the other eight the Lakers have already lost. The final score, 113-103, might as well hang on the Magic marquee all season.
In the age of the super team, the awkward reunion that follows the nasty break-up has become an annual tradition. It is a date to circle on the schedule, when the superstar who jilted a franchise is forced to confront those he left behind. Like LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony, Chris Paul and Chris Bosh, Howard had many reasons to move to a mega market, but in public he only acknowledged one. He said his new club gave him a chance to win a title, implying that his old one did not, an indictment of players who used to be pals. Howard was probably correct, of course, but he still had to face them.