It's been a long season for the Magic. Prior to their game at Philadelphia on Tuesday night, Orlando sported a 15 - 41 record, second worst in the league behind the Jordan-owned Bobcats while dropping 22 of their previous 25 games. They did defeat the 76ers 98 - 84 as Arron Afflalo led the way with 16 points and seven assists. Tobias Harris added 16 off the bench. Harris, along with guards Doron Lamb and Beno Udrih, were acquired last week from the Bucks in exchange for J.J. Redick, Gustavo Ayon and Ish Smith. While with the Bucks, Harris wore jersey number 15, since his teammate at the time, Luc Richard Mbah a Moute wore his preferable number 12. After being dealt to Orlando, Harris had his choice of jersey numbers to don, since his newly-suspended teammate Hedo Turkoglu owns 15. Upon request, Harris now wears number 12 for the Orlando Magic.
Wait a sec, isn't that number retired?
Apparently not. Prior to now currently being better known as Hollywood's headache with the Lakers, Dwight Howard wore number 12 for the Magic for eight seasons. During his tenure with Orlando, Howard would go on to win Defensive Player of the Year three times, earn six All-Star game selections and ultimately become the franchise's career leader in points, rebounds, rebounds per game, blocked shots and minutes played. Orlando is one of a few NBA teams who have not retired a jersey of a former player, despite the likes of great Magic talents such as Penny Hardaway, Shaquille O' Neal, Nick Anderson and Tracy McGrady. The fact that Howard demanded a trade and essentially bullied his way out of town might have something to do with the teams reluctance to embrace the past eight years in Orlando, however the fact that the team granted his old number to the first acquired player that requested it is even more puzzling.
Prior to his first two games with the Magic, Harris' 2012-13 season was highlighted by limited minutes and 25 DNPs with Milwaukee. He now wears number 12 just like and for his former high school teammate and childhood friend Morgan Childs to honor him, who died at 16 from a rare blood disease. As incredibly loyal and noble such a gesture is, the front-office of the Magic should have temporarily taken 12 out of circulation rather than get rid of it less than one calendar year to give it away. Just wait another 15 years before appreciating the history and officially placing that numbered banner in the rafters to commemerate a solid career, despite it ending bitterly. It's hard to say that Howard should care enough to feel disrespected or it's the team that has sour grapes and quickly moving on to rebuilding a decent team. Judge for yourselves.