When the Orlando Magic acquired Tobias Harris via trade last season, they didn’t blink when he asked to wear jersey number 12. Dwight Howard has moved on and believes he’s on a title contender in Houston, but still, the big fella admits that it hurt him that his old squad gave his old number away so quickly. Per the Orlando Sentinel: “Houston, he said, is the best place for him, and when he chose the Rockets, he didn’t repeat the mistakes he made during his painful, drawn-out final year with the Magic. ‘Everybody’s saying I was a ‘coward’ for leaving [the Lakers], and I knew I was going to get that,’ Howard said Tuesday. ‘But I think with the situation I had to do what was best for Dwight. I know when I wanted to leave Orlando, and I decided to stay, I wasn’t happy on the inside. I wanted to please everybody else and ended up hurting a lot of people by doing it the way I did. So, this time it’s like I had a second chance. I said, ‘You know what? People are going to hate me for whatever reason, so I can’t allow that to stop me from making my decision.’ I thought that my decision took a lot of guts because everybody’s saying, ‘How could you leave the Lakers and six billion fans?’ But I don’t care about being an outcast or about being somebody that may look bad. All I’ve got to do is win now, and I’m in the right situation.’ On Wednesday night, Howard and the Rockets will face the Magic in a preseason exhibition. Some of the old hurts seem to have faded for Howard and the Magic. Of the four franchises that participated in the blockbuster Aug. 2012 trade that sent Howard to L.A., the Magic are the only team to still have any tangible, long-term assets from that deal. Orlando netted center Nik Vucevic, swingman Maurice Harkless, swingman Arron Afflalo and several protected future draft picks. Still, Howard’s departure sent the Magic on a clear rebuilding path — a complete teardown that left Orlando with the NBA’s worst record last season. ‘I would say they did some good things,’ Howard said of the Magic. ‘They’re very young right now. Once those guys learn how to play the game and grow into their games, they’ll be fine.’ […] Howard said he was disappointed that, last February, after the Magic acquired Tobias Harris in a trade, the team granted Harris’ request to wear No. 12, Howard’s old number. ‘I just think that despite whatever happened, there was a lot of things that I did and that we did as a team, and that number was special down there,’ Howard said. ‘And I was a little bit upset about that.’ (Howard likely didn’t know, and perhaps still doesn’t know, that Harris wanted to wear No. 12 as a tribute to a close friend who had died of leukemia at 17 years old.)”
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