Dwight Howard's constant whining and trade demands didn't just put a hurt on NBA fans' ears for several months. They also left plenty of wreckage in Orlando, where Magic fans now have to enter another time of star-less losing.
While much of the blame has been put on Howard for leaving town, Orlando management certainly did its fair share to create the mess. The way the brass dealt with Howard's demands led to much of the drama, and, before letting the big man go, they even ditched the coach Howard had trouble with — Stan Van Gundy.
So now Orlando is left without both its star and its quality coach, and fans have every reason to wonder when enough is enough.
At least one NBA analyst is giving them free reign to complain and jump ship.
"I think long-term, if you're an Orlando Magic fan, today is a day where you have to ask yourself: Is it worth it?" NBA analyst and former coach Jeff Van Gundy told ESPN Radio New York on Monday.
Van Gundy pointed to the three stars the Magic have brought in and lost over the past decade and a half — Shaquille O'Neal, who went to the Lakers for a better offer; Tracy McGrady, who forced his way out; and Howard, who also pushed Orlando to trade him (and also to the Lakers).
"You have to ask yourself, is it worth it?" van Gundy said of how Magic fans must be feeling. "Because even if we get the guys, are we going to be able to keep the guys? So much is being made of draft picks. Those draft picks are great if, like Oklahoma City, you have the ability to have the second, third and fourth pick in the draft and get [Kevin] Durant, [Russell] Westbrook, [James] Harden and [Serge] Ibaka. You've got to get those picks, and then you have to draft the right guys, and they've got to come together like those guys have, and then you have to be able to retain them like Oklahoma City has.
"But Orlando, when they have gotten their best players, whatever reason, it hasn't worked out, and I really, really feel for their fan base. It's a sad day for the Orlando Magic fan base."
The Magic, the clear loser in the Howard trade to Los Angeles, may not just have to find a way to win a few games next season. It may also be time for them to start a longer campaign to win back their fan base.
Photo via Facebook/Jeff Van Gundy