ORLANDO, Fla. — Carmelo Anthony saw the wall of reporters and knew immediately who was being surrounded.
Back in New York, it would be Jeremy Lin.
But with All-Star weekend in Orlando, the focus is shifting back to where it was to start the season, to Dwight Howard’s future.
That means Howard gets the same questions Anthony was peppered with last year during the NBA’s midseason break, just before he was traded.
“Thank you, Dwight!” Anthony yelled. “It’s your turn!”
The center has asked for a trade, but he’s still in Orlando and there’s no telling for how much longer. The Magic could deal him before the March 15 trade deadline, or hold onto him all season and risk losing him while getting nothing back in July.
Howard, a former Swainsboro, Ga., resident, didn’t want to discuss any of that.
“All the other stuff can wait,” Howard said. “I just want people to have fun and enjoy themselves. This is All-Star weekend. This is a time of celebration for guys who’ve had great first halves and guys who have never even seen this.”
Lin wasn’t forgotten, even after James and the Heat on Thursday forced him into the worst game since he emerged as the NBA’s biggest story earlier this month. Many All-Stars were asked about the Knicks guard, who was playing only in Friday’s Rising Stars Challenge featuring rookies and second-year players yet was given his own evening news conference to accommodate the large media interest.
Howard said every time he watches TV, he sees something about Lin, the NBA’s first American-born player of Chinese or Taiwanese descent. He was asked if there was anything that could stop the undrafted guard from Harvard.
“Uh, he hasn’t gone up against the Great Wall of Orlando yet,” Howard said.
This wall may be moveable.
The Magic have given Howard’s agent permission to discuss deals with the Nets, Lakers and Dallas Mavericks, and there was plenty of speculation he could be dealt even before the season began, just as Chris Paul was.
That would have created an awkward All-Star reunion.
Howard literally towers over this city, his face pictured on billboards overlooking the interstate and on a giant Adidas ad high atop the outside of the Amway Center. This region caters to visitors, but didn’t have to consider how it would have welcomed Howard.
“I’m here, so it doesn’t matter what would’ve or should’ve happened,” he said. “But you know I’m here and we want to have a great time. I’m looking forward to all the events and showing everybody my city.”