Burnsy proposes a change for the Magic…

After the Orlando Magic lost to the Atlanta Hawks in the first round of the NBA Playoffs, my inbox was flooded with emails. Granted, most of them were from women currently serving life sentences in prison asking for conjugal visits, but a few of them delivered perhaps the most important question of our lives - will Dwight Howard stay in Orlando?

The immediate answer is yes, because he’s under contract for another season, so it’s ridiculous that we even have to talk about it this early. Then again, Shaquille O’Neal set a precedent when he high-tailed from the City Beautiful, so we have every right to start worrying, and worry we should. After the embarrassment of watching Hedo Turkoglu miss shots because he’s laughing too hard thinking about how absurdly high his paycheck is, we have to be realistic when it comes to Dwight’s future.

The fact is - Dwight isn’t going to stay if his supporting cast is Hedo and Gilbert Arenas’ 60-year old knees. Sadly, that’s the future that GM Otis Smith created for us through his ridiculous midseason trades that he claimed he would do all over again if he had the chance. Of course he would! He gave his good buddy Arenas a home for the next three years with no consequences because they’re driving out the only reason we care about this team. That is, with all due respect to Jameer Nelson and JJ Redick, but let’s be real.

I refuse, though, to be any more negative than that right now. I wrote a letter to Otis explaining my fury as a season ticket holder and now I’m going to offer two pieces of advice on how we can keep Dwight in Orlando. And I’m not saying “we” as in myself as a member of the team. I’m saying “we” as in citizens of Orlando and fans of the Magic. As much as it’s Otis’ job to surround Dwight with players like Chris Paul, Chris Paul and Chris Paul this offseason, we have a job to show Dwight that he won’t be as loved anywhere else.

Plan A: I’m going to skip this because some people have already created www.StayDwight.com, and they’re devoting their efforts to raising banners at downtown bars and passing out stickers and t-shirts at random events. I commend the people behind that effort greatly, but I think there’s more to do.

Plan B: I’ve been talking about this idea among my friends in Orlando’s social elite over the past few weeks and the general consensus is that it needs to be done. The idea? Name a street after Dwight. The first response to that is - what if he doesn’t stay? Then we change it back. In the meantime, we have plenty of streets downtown that have meaningless names and we have a true superstar athlete, the last of a dying breed of big men, and someone who truly loves this city. So why doesn’t he already have a street named after him?

It can’t be too far-fetched an idea for someone high up in the city’s government to file a few papers, pick a few brains and find out if people would really have a problem changing the name of Division Avenue to Dwight Howard Avenue. People have already tried to change the name of Division because of its negative connotation, so why not give it a positive meaning and make it a street that inspires pride within the community?

I’m not using Division as anything other than a jumping off point in this discussion, mind you. People are quick to assume that there’s a racial component in talking about the NBA and pushing the idea of change on to Division Ave. It could be any street downtown. It could be Church, Central, Orange… hell, we could rename 10 miles of I4 to the Dwight Howard Interstate. I’m not implying anything other than it needs to be done.

With that out of the way, facts are facts - Dwight is not happy when the Magic are not winning and it’s up to Otis Smith, Rich DeVos, Alex Martins, Stan Van Gundy and everyone else with the slightest bit of power within the Magic organization to make Dwight realize that this is his home. But it’s up to people like you and me as well. Because we’ll be the only ones left in this ghost town if Dwight leaves.

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