Dwight Howard Jersey Giveaway Causes Mini-Riot in Chicago


By Paul M. Banks

Today is certainly the era of athlete accessibility- sort of. With so many professional athletes blogging, twittering and doing a greater number of public events, many fans feel closer than ever to the game; until security steps in.

Following the Orlando Magic’s 101-98 preseason road victory over the Chicago Bulls Monday night, Magic Center Dwight Howard was one of a few Orlando players to give his jersey away to United Center fans. The visitor’s exit tunnel runs right below the section of press row where I was seated that night, so I witnessed the entire unfortunate episode. A swarm of fans struggled mightily with each other to possess Howard’s sweat-stained jersey. After the mosh pit style scene subsided, a Caucasian male in a Magic jacket, looking about “tweenage,” came away with it. Or so he thought. A security official took it back, and after all the fighting and fuss, no one got the jersey.dsc03052

The forlorn look on the tween’s face was a depressing sight. I felt so bad for him, if you told a five year old that Santa Claus didn’t exist on Christmas Eve, that child would probably be in better spirits than this guy appeared to be.

After the game, the two reporters next to me who also witnessed the brouhaha, (Bryan Crawford of Slam Magazine and Chris Cason of the Examiner.com) accompanied me in speaking with Howard. Crawford informed Howard that a small riot erupted amongst the fans trying to get his jersey after he exited.

“Dude asked me for the jersey, and they took it from him? Tell him to Tweet me,” Howard said in disappointment from hearing that the boy was unable to keep the jersey.

I then mentioned that I snapped a couple pics of the scene. “Send me the Twitpics,” Howard responded.

So there you go: if you’re the fan who missed out, send Dwight Howard a tweet, because he loves the fans in the Second City.

“Chicago’s a great place to play period, doesn’t matter if its preseason or end of the season, the fans are always great. It’s always a good game when you play in Chicago,” Dwight stated.

Oh and by the way, Howard led the Magic with 10 rebounds and tied with Ryan Anderson to lead the team 18 points. This kept the Magic undefeated in preseason, but of course, Howard knows how meaningless that is. “We can’t be like ‘we went undefeated in preseason,’ because that doesn’t mean anything,” he said before articulating that the team lacks regular season intensity. “We have two more games before the season starts, It’s no more time for fun and games. It’s time for everybody to get going.”