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Dec. 18, 2011; Miami, FL, USA; Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard (right) and Miami Heat small forward LeBron James (left) during the first half at American Airlines Arena. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-US PRESSWIRE

Has Dwight Howard Replaced Lebron James As The NBA's Ultimate Villain?

For the past 2 seasons, Lebron James of the Miami Heat has been the most scrutinized and despised figure in the NBA.

His infamous “Decision” back in 2010 where he went on ESPN and announced that he was “taking his talents to South Beach” made many basketball fans (especially those in Cleveland) turn on the “King” of basketball.

James came off as an ego-maniacal airhead. He thought so highly of himself that he believed a one-hour live special on ESPN to tell the world he was joining Dwayne Wade and the Miami Heat was actually warranted. He then proceeded to join his new teammates Wade and Chris Bosh on stage at the AmericanAirlines arena prior to the 2010-11 season to throw a cheesy, self-righteous celebration in which he proclaimed that the Heat were going to win not 1 NBA championship….not 2……not 3…….not 4……not 5…..and so on and so on.

It appears though that the overall disapproval of Lebron and his teammates has somewhat fizzled out as of late. Now that James has grabbed the proverbial brass ring and become an NBA champion for the first time in his storied career, the overall ill-will towards him has now turned to praise, admiration and respect.

He’s showing maturity that wasn’t present 2 years ago. He’s grown up. The glory of his newly won title has humbled him.

James has become a different person on and off the court.

Lebron will always have his “haters“. Whether it’s those fans that still resent him because of his move to the Heat or those who are just jealous of the immense talent that he possesses, James will forever be under the microscope of many an NBA fan.

But is he still the biggest “bad guy” in the sport?

Not anymore.

That distinction now belongs to the Orlando Magics (for how much longer, I don’t know) Dwight Howard.

The NBA’s modern-day “Superman” (sorry Shaq) has done little to get on the good side of Magic fans and fans around the league in general. His constant flip-flop attitude and overly selfish tendencies have rubbed many people the wrong way.

Just before the start of the 2011-12 NBA season, rumours started circulating that Howard was going to ask Magic management for a trade to the New Jersey/Brooklyn Nets. Shortly thereafter, Dwight changed his mind and expressed his desire to remain with the franchise if moves were made to substantially improve the roster and turn the team into a contender.

On March 15th of this year, Dwight Howard signed an opt in clause to keep him with the Magic for the 2012-13 season. Because of Howard’s decision, the Magic decided it best to not trade their superstar before the trading deadline.

This past April (in one of the more awkward interviews ever conducted), (then) Magic head coach Stan Van Gundy revealed to the media that Howard had asked upper management for his dismissal/firing as coach of the team.

Stories later surfaced that Howard was accusing the Orlando Magic front office of “blackmailing” him into staying with the ball club. Promises were apparently made to Dwight to keep him happy that were not fulfilled on the teams part.

I haven’t even mentioned the fact that Dwight recently flip-flopped AGAIN and asked new Magic GM Rob Hennigan for a trade to the Brooklyn Nets, the same team he asked to be dealt to back in December.

We as fans of the sport can only be toyed with emotionally for so long before negativity, hatred and grudges towards the pre-madonnas of the league start to take over. Dwight Howard deserves all that and then some.

He has it coming to him.

If he wanted out of Orlando so badly, why on earth would he sign that opt-in clause to stay with the team next season? Howard says it was because of his “loyalty” (sigh) to the Magic.

What a load of crap.

He could have easily been a free-agent right now. He would have spent the summer finding his new home (Brooklyn?) and this “DWIGHTMARE” would have been over with.

Done. Finito.

However, just like the Energizer Bunny, this story keeps going and going and going….

I can only imagine what kind of anguish fans of the Orlando Magic are going through because of this dilemma. This Dwight Howard disaster has effectively poisoned this franchise from the inside out.

The days of Howard donning a cape and dunking from the free-throw line at the NBA Slam Dunk Contest with a cavalcade of fans cheering him on are long gone. The lasting image of Dwight Howard etched in the minds of fans around the league these days is of a man who can’t make up his mind and whose held the team he helped put on the basketball map for the past 8 seasons hostage until he gets what he so desires….

A first-class ticket out of Orlando to a new team……and a new start. 

There is absolutely nothing wrong with wanting to leave your team and start anew somewhere else. It’s just that in Dwight’s case, he’s gone about this entire process the absolute worst way possible.

No one likes a flip-flopper. No one likes a cry-baby. No one likes a stubborn, stuck up attention freak. The world doesn’t revolve around Dwight Howard, nor should it.

And for that, Dwight Howard is your new villain of the NBA, and rightfully so. 

Lebron…..step aside.

Christopher Walder is a sports blogger and lead editor for Sir Charles in Charge. You may follow him on Twitter @WalderSports

Tags: Brooklyn Nets Chris Bosh Dwayne Wade Dwight Howard LeBron James Miami Heat NBA Championship NBA Trades Orlando Magic Stan Van Gundy The Decision

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