Orlando Magic’s Dwight Howard 25th anniversary tribute draws mixed feelings

Dwight Howard returned to Orlando on Wednesday, March 5, for the second time since the Magic traded him away. This time as a member of the Houston Rockets. Howard received a video tribute from the team as part of their 25th anniversary season, a tribute Howard was very appreciative of.

“We had some good times in Orlando,” said Howard. “I will never forget them. It was good to see some of those plays.”

The Magic are honoring past players this season that played a major role in the team’s success during their first 25 years. Nick Anderson, Jeff Turner, Horace Grant, Dennis Scott, Penny Hardaway and Tracy McGrady are among the players that have been honored this season thus far.

Howard’s exit from Orlando, similar to Hardaway’s and McGrady’s, was less than ideal. Howard infamously forced his way out of Orlando, which caused turmoil between Howard and Magic management that led the team to trade him.

Despite all of that, the organization honored Howard between the first and second quarters of the game. The video tribute of Howard, which lasted for about a minute, was met with hostility from the crowd. Howard said after the game that he understands why he was booed.

“I played here and some people are upset that I left so they are going to boo,” said Howard. “They are going to let their frustrations out and that is totally understandable. I appreciate all of the fans that did cheer and have been a fan of myself and this team from day one.”

While many fans are upset over all of the bad times in Orlando, Howard said he felt like they forgetting about the good times they’ve had.

“There are a lot of great moments that happened here in Orlando,” said Howard. “From the first time I got here, me and Jameer [Nelson] wanted to change how people viewed the Magic; that was our mission while we were here. I thought we did a good job of that.”

The players on the Magic’s current roster are much different than those that were on the team with Howard. Only point guard Jameer Nelson remains on the team that played with Howard, and Nelson missed Wednesday night’s game with an illness.

Howard understands the Magic are currently rebuilding, but acknowledged the Magic have a lot of young talent and praised rookie point guard Victor Oladipo.

“He has a great opportunity here in Orlando to be awesome,” said Howard. “He’s had some great games this year. He has led this team and he is a young guy. Once the game starts to slow down for him, he is going to be one great player.”

Howard believes time will help mend some scars left behind by his exit from the team.

“At the end of the day I think time heals all wounds even though it’s only been a year,” said Howard. “I’ve forgiven the people that I needed to forgive and hopefully all of the fans will forgive me for how the situation ended. My love for the city will never change.”