by Marcel Mutoni @marcel_mutoni

What had been a growing fear, is now a painful reality for Dwight Howard and the Orlando Magic.

The big fella is done for the season, and not only will Howard not be taking part in Orlando’s Playoff run, but he will also be sitting out the Olympic Games this summer in London.

The Magic confirmed tonight that Dwight will undergo surgery to repair a herniated disk in his lower back.

From the Orlando Sentinel:

“Dwight has been reevaluated and his condition has not improved,” team spokesman Joel Glass said. “In consultation between Dr. Robert Watkins and the Orlando Magic medical staff surgery has been deemed necessary. The recommendation has been agreed upon by all medical personnel involved in his care.”

Howard has missed the Magic’s last six games and eight overall this season. The Magic are 3-5 without Howard.

This concludes what was a strange, eventful, and ultimately disastrous season for Dwight Howard in Orlando, and a future that can only charitably be described as cloudy.

We’ll give Dwight — who made a point to vehemently deny media reports that he was refusing to play for his coach Stan Van Gundy — the last word on this unfortunate matter, via ESPN:

“It hurts (emotionally),” Howard said. “That’s the first thing — it hurts. And then with people saying and thinking I’m quitting on my team. This is a real issue. I tried to play through it and it just made my back worse.” Howard has been complaining of back problems since early March, but it wasn’t until Los Angeles-based spine surgeon Dr. Robert Watkins examined him last week that the herniated disk was discovered. Howard received an epidural to alleviate the pain at that time, and the plan was that he’d rest and rehabilitate his back for 10-14 days before deciding if he could return to play or further treatment might be necessary. But his back has worsened and both Watkins and the Magic’s medical staff determined that surgery is necessary.

Howard said he is not worried about any long-term ramifications from the surgery. “The doctor said it’s a one-inch incision,” Howard said. “He said I can start rehab right away and be back to full contact in four months. So I’m not really concerned. If anything, I’ll come back stronger.”