Cohen: Our Biggest Sports Absorption

By Josh Cohen
March 15, 2012

ORLANDO -- It’s what happens away from the game that tends to fascinate us the most.

That’s the memorandum that spreads far and wide throughout professional sports.

For months I have talked about how team architecture and player movement/player loyalty enthralls sports fans more than what emerges inside a box score.

Dwight Howard’s admirable and monumental decision on Wednesday to remain with the Orlando Magic through next season fits idyllically with this premise.

For months, NBA enthusiasts seemingly spent half of their energy digging up the latest speculation and possibilities. Fans became captivated by the entire thrill and ambiguity – will Howard be traded, will he stay in Orlando, will the Magic acquire a “second superstar,” etc. etc?

It’s a trend that has bordered sports for years. We all remember LeBron James and his notorious decision to leave Cleveland in 2010. That unforgettable announcement on national television was a worldwide rumpus.

If you move westward and shoot the breeze with fans in northern California, they will all revive Chris Webber’s devotion to Sacramento when he re-signed with the Kings in 2001 after assumptions he would leave for a bigger stage.

Slightly south in Hollywood, Kobe Bryant created shockwaves in 2007 when he proclaimed his desire to be traded before the Lakers proved to their superstar L.A. still had championship merit.

In the same town but shifting sports, baseball devotees became engrossed in Albert Pujols before he made an unexpected choice to walk away from the World Series champs to sign up with the Angels.

It’s happened with a myriad of other sluggers, including Alex Rodriguez – once in 2000 when he eventually joined the Texas Rangers for an unprecedented contract and again in 2004 when a Northeast war between the Yankees and Red Sox broke out for his services before NY won the battle.

Josh Cohen
You can’t avoid what is presently transpiring in the NFL with Peyton Manning, who is in the midst of deciding who he will play for next season. And undeniably, Brett Favre and his infinite retirements and returns was an endless topic of discussion.

Come the postseason, fans will pay very close attention to the action on the floor. But our cravings and our fascinations tend to sway our minds to these inexorable storylines and uncertainties.

Over the last two days when it became apparent that Howard might consider remaining with the only franchise he’s ever played for, there were probably around 34,638 twitter posts. The word “Source” was probably the Internet’s most popular key word and opinions from across the globe about Dwight’s future became an integral part of everyone’s conversations.

It’s without doubt that the long-term future of Howard will be regenerated at some point – most likely at the end of this season – and at that time the fixation will flare up again.

But for now, we can move along to the next big unknown – irrespective of sport and star. It’s out there somewhere and it won’t take much effort to find it.



2007: Kobe Bryant and his initial trade request before helping the Lakers reach the NBA Finals in three straight years.

2001: Chris Webber's back-and-forth decision when he was a free agent before deciding to re-sign with the Kings.

2012: Dwight Howard's ultimate decision to not opt out of his contract and remain with the Magic through the 2012-13 season.

2010: LeBron James' announcement on national television that he would leave Cleveland and join Miami.

2011: Albert Pujols' free agent choice to leave St. Louis and sign with the Los Angeles Angels.

2000, 2004: Alex Rodriguez's decision to sign a 10-year deal with the Texas Rangers and then the Northeast war to get A-Rod in either New York or Boston.

2012: Peyton Manning and his escapade around the league to find a new team after the Colts decided to go in a different direction.

2008: Brett Favre and his retirement before returning to the league and playing for the Jets, then Vikings, the next three years.

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