by Marcel Mutoni @marcel_mutoni

Sixteen years ago, Shaquille O’Neal turned his back on the Orlando Magic, and took his enormous talents and personality to the City of Angels. Having somehow lucked out into the premiere young big man in the NBA, Orlando is on the verge of losing him to brighter lights once agan.

According to Shaq, if (when) Magic center Dwight Howard leaves, it would be a “travesty”.

The Orlando Sentinel has the quotes:

No one doubts that speculation about Dwight Howard’s uncertain future will a primary storyline of All-Star weekend in Orlando on Feb. 24-26. But how much, if at all, will all that talk about Howard overshadow what’s supposed to be a joyous time? That question was posed to TNT/NBA TV analyst Shaquille O’Neal during a Turner Sports teleconference Tuesday with reporters.

“I think it’s going to be about 50-50,” said O’Neal, who still owns a home in Isleworth. “But all around, I think it’s going to be a great event … Orlando’s come a long way since the ’92 All-Star Game,” O’Neal added. “The nightlife here is fabulous. The real estate has been fabulous. You still have Disney around the corner for you to bring your family. So I think it’s going to be a great event. It’d be good if he could put on a show and get the love and the support from the fans here and win the MVP. Hopefully, he stays, because that arena there is one of the best arenas in the country. If he leaves, it’ll be a travesty.”

The irony in all of this is delicious.

Dwight Howard leaving Orlando isn’t a travesty, or any such nonsense. He has given the franchise seven great seasons, and if he feels that he can’t win a title there (or reach all of his off-the-court dreams), then he has every right to leave. Just like Shaq did.

It’s not a travesty. But it sure does suck for the Orlando Magic and their fans.