Dear Dwight:

You’re the best center in the NBA by a mile.  You’re popular and you seem like a pretty nice guy.  You certainly have your health.  But you’ve got no legacy.  Not yet.  Not even close.  You haven’t won a championship.  You haven’t even adopted an original nickname.

All you’ve got at this moment is obscene delts and a lot of technical fouls.  But David Robinson and Elden Campbell could give you a run for your money on shoulders, and Rasheed Wallace owns you on Ts.   You’ve got good stats too, but lots of guys have those.

When you decide where to sign next year as a free agent, you won’t just be picking a home for the prime of your career.  You’ll be defining yourself for the history books.  We all want to know which team you choose.  We all want to watch you create that legacy.

But I’m curious about something more specific.  I want to know what, exactly, you really care about.  What matters to you the most, Dwight?

The other day, you said this:

“There’s no place I would rather be but here in Orlando,” Howard said. “And I just want to make sure that we have the right things here so we can win a championship. And I’m all about change. If you’re willing to change and you’re willing to do what it takes to win, then, you know, you’ve got me.

Ah, so you’re all about winning.  Tremendous.  Here’s what I say to you.

Dwight, put your money where your mouth is:  If you really want to win, why not play for $1.2 million next year?

It’s just one year!  Here are three reasons why you should do this:

1.  It will define your legacy.  No one as good as you has ever done anything like this in the history of professional sports.  Make a sacrifice and prove that you’re all about winning.  Spark an incredible debate about competition, fairness, and sacrifice.  Put the pressure on your enormous shoulders — and then deliver.  Change the game forever.

2.  You can afford it.  You are already worth $40 million, and your endorsements alone net you over $10 million per year.  So even if you played for free next year, you’d still be earning eight figures.  I don’t know too many other 27-year-olds who pull down that kind of cheddar.

(Don’t talk to me about possible injuries during your one-year deal.  You’re invincible, having played an insane 614 out of a possible 621 games in your NBA career thus far.  Anyhow, you can take out an enormous insurance policy.)

3. You’d get out of Shaq’s shadow.  I hate to be the one to tell you this, buddy, but you’re on your way to being remembered as Shaq Lite.  Part of that’s not your fault.  It’s tough to avoid when you’re a center drafted #1 overall by the Magic.  But you haven’t helped anything with that Superman cape.  And you sure won’t blaze a new path if you sign with the Lakers.

Think about the possibilities.  The truly heroic move would be to stay in Orlando and see what Otis Smith can do with an extra $15 million in cap space next year (assuming he can prune his  roster enough to actually get below the cap).  That’s how you become a real Superman in a city that already worships you.  Instead of The Decision, give us The Sacrifice.

Or you could sign with an already stacked team. Go to Chicago and let them keep their nucleus intact.  Join the Thunder and let Kendrick Perkins play a little power forward from time to time.  Hang with Chris Paul for a year wherever he lands.  Join an amazing collection of veterans in Dallas. Critics would attack you, but your team would be a phenomenon, your team’s fans would love you forever, and you could prove that you’re all about winning by actually winning.

Or how about this:  Give the Heat a tiny upgrade over Joel Anthony at center and become the most loved/hated/talked about team … EVER.

Just imagine the possibilities, big fella.

Very truly yours,
The Cosby Sweaters Staff

About 041f2ff6b87145219e45019aaf7daa2d