Dwight Howard will not finish the 2012 season in a Magic uniform. At least he will still be on the roster, but the Magic's superstar center will have back surgery Friday in Los Angeles, ending his season, his 2012 Playoffs and his chance for a second gold medal at the 2012 Olympics, Howard's agent Dan Fegan told Ric Bucher of ESPN the Magazine.
According to Bucher, Howard began complaining of back pain in early March but played through it. The pain only worsened though and it came to a head after a disputed incident against Dallas' Brendan Haywood. Since that game, Howard has missed eight of the Magic's last 10 games. Of course, Howard had missed only eight games in the previous seven years of his career.
Howard was later diagnosed with a herniated disc and, after visiting Dr. Robert Watkins in Los Angeles. They tried a treatment of rest and epidurals to alleviate the pain. But, after about a week, with the pain still grinding at him, his doctors felt surgery was his best option.
This season has been chock full of speculation and twisting of every single one of Dwight Howard's words and actions to portend his future. No doubt, that is already happening.
His injury has already been characterized by some as a ploy to avoid playing for Stan Van Gundy. Reports circulated that Howard intended to miss out on the entire Playoffs becuase he was so upset with Van Gundy.
These reports turned out to be false. Patently false, as just about everyone around the Magic knew and could see from the anguish and pain on Howard's face as he tried to tough out this injury.
Instead, what we do know is that Howard was doing everything he could to be back on the floor as soon as possible for his team. Clearly, it was to his detriment. This injury was always going to keep Howard out of the Playoffs, the question is how will it affect his career.
As Howard tells Chris Broussard of ESPN.com in the tweets displayed below, these rumors hurt Howard deeply:
Howard told Broussard that he should be able to begin rehabilitation immediately and that the typical recovery time is four months. He may not have time to develop any new post moves, but that should have him ready for training camp in late September.
It is going to take a lot to rebuild Howard, both physically and with the media. Again, there are a lot of people continuing to feed the rumor machine that Howard is using this as a shield for quitting on the team and his coach. That is not the case.
It is, as his agent, Dan Fegan, put it, "absurd." And it is. Howard has taken a beating in the post for the better part of eight years. It was only a matter of time before something like this happened -- especially with NBA referees refusing to call many flagrant fouls against players hanging onto and beating on Howard throughout his career.
Howard was in the middle of resting his back in hopes of trying to play this season and play in the Playoffs. The Magic, perhaps, were not letting on to the public how bad they felt the injury was. But Stan Van Gundy said that it was a 50-50 shot all along, and we know he is a straight shooter.
Fegan told Ken Berger of CBS Sports that they tried rehabbing and resting it, but the pain did not go away. Two doctors agreed that Howard needed surgery. Berger reports Howard will fly out to Los Angeles tomorrow morning and have the surgery in the afternoon.
From there ... well, we really don't know. Howard has not been hurt before.
There are a ton of implications for the Magic's future -- both immediate and long-range -- and Howard's future wrapped up into this. What is important to know is that back injuries are not a thing to joke about. If his back is hurting this much, it is hurting this much. We will get into those at another time.
For now, the Howard question is resolved partially. The team can move on and prepare for the Playoffs.