Time for Professional Athletes to Grow Up, Starting with Dwight Howard

July 01, 2012 | Andrew Tomlinson

News leaked out yesterday that the Orlando Magic’s Dwight Howard requested another trade to the Brooklyn Nets and then filed a grievance with the players association claiming he was duped into taking his player option, yet again showing many professional athletes need to understand they cannot always have it their way.

In the real world, when you sign a contract you honor it or risk breaching it. There is really no way around it. A person with a regular job never has the ability to turn to their boss and say “I don’t want to be here, trade me to our direct  competitor.”

Why then, should it be just be normal for athletes to be able to do it?

Howard needs to learn there are consequences to his actions and when the going gets tough he just cant decide to turn and run. Part of being an athlete is commitment to excellence, but also to your contract. Players demand trades all the time, but it is always a sore sport, for me at least, as it is selfish.

We often hear how professional athletes area only worried about themselves and don’t care about anybody else. There are the few exceptions, like Curtis Granderson and Terrelle Suggs, but in large part a lot of pro players seem to back up their biggest critics. Especially in the NBA, where players are often looked at as money grubbing divas. Howard, despite everything he might try to do now, will always be the guy who whined his way out of a bad situation and that should be unacceptable.

It is no secret the Magic are not a good team. Yet, Howard only has one year left on his contract and it is not like he is anywhere near retiring. He is in the prime of his career and is still productive. If he really wanted to go to the Nets, the world would have much more respect for him if he just signed the contract he thought he deserved after next season when his tenure is finished in Orlando.

Almost everyone has worked a job they don’t like in their lives. Working a bad job is part of being a member of the professional community. Whether it is food service, retail, business or something else, most red blooded Americans have suffered through a painful few years to help them get where they want to be in life. Athletes shouldn’t get a free pass on having to suffer through tough situations just because they are talented. Talent is great, but it does not excuse someone from being a decent person and employee.

Howard needs to take a good look in the mirror and figure out whether he wants to be an upstanding person and better teammate, or someone who wants to be remembered as a quitter. Essentially, demanding a trade out of Orlando, is nothing more than quitting on your teammates and fans. Quitters never win and it is a mentality that seems to follow them everywhere. It is weird to say, but Howard should take a lesson from Lebron James’ book. James didn’t love his situation in Cleveland, but honored his contract finished his tenure and went to Miami and won a championship.

It is weird to say, but James is more honorable as a person than Howard is right now and made a more mature decision. That should strike a chord with Howard and make him change his tune and grow up.