Magic fans have not heard from Dwight Howard in a while. He has been rehabbing in Los Angeles after back surgery in April and by all accounts -- usually a stray comment from Alex Martins or a sidewalk interview with TMZ -- Howard's recovery is going fine.
There are even some rumors that Howard is going to be making his way back to Orlando soon. Who really knows, though?
While he has not been in Orlando, rumors have flown that his silence meant he wanted out and was preparing to make a final separation from the franchise. Of course, Howard has not said anything and the franchise continues to believe they still have a fighting chance to retain Howard and get himt o sign a long-term contract.
Those are issues for another day -- like when the Magic have a general manager... or a coach... or when Howard is actually back in Orlando.
But silence means you cannot respond. And so, it means speculation rules the day and ridiculous things like this come out to needle and press and annoy Magic fans:
Yes, that is an actual shirt. Not sold by the Magic. Not sold by Mother Falcon. But sold through the NBA Store on NBA.com. If you want to invest in loyalty, go for it. It will cost you $21.99. Somehow, it feels like it cost Dwight Howard a little more. But there I go stoking the speculation and rumor mill for no reason.
This shirt is just too ironic not to just shake your head and laugh at. Or maybe we are defining loyalty wrong <checks dictionary> nope, I do not think we are.
That is no slam on Howard. Someone somewhere in the NBA offices thought this was a good idea and probably sent it to production after Howard professed his loyalty to the franchise on March 15 after waiving his early termination option and committing to fulfill the final year of his contract in Orlando (or somewhere).
I think our good friend Matt Yoder over at our sister site, Crossover Chronicles says it best:
Howard himself used the word to describe why he made his decision to stay in Orlando for now, but I sure hope for the sake of the NBA and Adidas that this shirt is purely ironic. You may as well sell shirts like Brett Favre "DECISIVE", LeBron James "CLUTCH", or Shawn Kemp "ABSTINENT".
I can't believe any Magic fan on the planet would actually consider buying this shirt.
Judging by your Twitter response, it seems most Magic fans do consider this a slap in the face and the only way these shirts fly off the (virtual) shelves is if Howard signs an extension. Makes you wonder if the NBA knows something we don't.
Somehow I doubt that is the case. This was just a poor marketing move for a new t-shirt -- unless it was up there for a long time and was only recently discovered by intrepid bloggers. What is even more curious is the way the NBA has taken Howard out of a lot of their national promotional material for this season -- likely because of the uncertainty of which uniform he was wearing. If that was the reason for Howard getting pushed to the back of the line for NBA marketing this season, it sure seems odd to be trying to sell a shirt like this.
Of course, if Howard signs an extension with the Magic then we can all wear "loyalty" across our chests and get excited for the next season.