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Dwight Howard Announces Decision To Stay With Orlando Magic Next Season, Pledges Loyalty

Dwight Howard formally announced in a press conference that he has decided to remain under contract with the Orlando Magic through the 2012-13 season rather than become a free agent this summer. The decision, which keeps Howard off the trade market for the time being, was done out of loyalty, Howard said.

"I've always believed loyalty is before anything, and I owe loyalty to [general manager] Otis Smith and [Magic owner Rich DeVos and] the whole DeVos family. I want to try to make this work not just for our family, but for the city," Howard said.

Howard said he's "glad this is finally over with" and that he went "back and forth" for several months before coming to a decision. He compared his situation to anyone switching jobs or locations, saying "it's a tough decision and it's not something that's simple."

"I wouldn't say people were pulling me to go different places," Howard said when asked why it took so long. "They were just looking at it from a business standpoint. I totally understand that position. That's why you pay certain people to do certain things."

Magic president Alex Martins agreed with Howard's stance, saying "it's very commendable" that Howard "chose loyalty" over other options. He added later that the organization's goal was always to get Howard to stay.

"Our goal and only goal was to get Dwight to agree to sign the waivers," Martins said. "That's been our only goal going back a year ago. That's our only focus. Yes, history plays a role in everything. As we said to fans early on, we weren't going to allow the organization to suffer the same thing it suffered back in mid-90s [with Shaquille O'Neal]. We were going to make sure first and foremost to put every effort to making sure Dwight stayed here. But if Dwight made a different decision, we were prepared to make sure we didn't suffer the same situation as the mid-90s."

All quotes via live stream. For more on the Magic, visit Orlando Pinstriped Post and SB Nation Tampa Bay.