Every NBA player has an individuality of their own when they are off the court. Some are unique while others might be overbearing. Dwight Howard now doesn’t have any of the status as a superstar that he once had just 10 years ago. Why is that so?
Owning the spotlight
Well when Howard was drafted, he was coming straight out of high school as the no. 1 pick of the 2004 Draft. His first two seasons were spent on playing as a power forward because of his size. But from an early age he started showing his caliber as a double-double machine as he averaged 12 points, 10 rebounds and 1.7 blocks per game. His defensive skills were already good enough to make him an All-Defensive player and he had a lot of upside.
When he started playing center that’s when the league started to notice him. From 2006-2012, he had the best times of his career as he made 6 All-Star teams, 5 All-Defensive Teams, 6 All-NBA Teams, 4-times Rebounding Champ, 2-times Blocks Champ, 3-times Defensive Player of The Year and a Slam Dunk Champion. He was the best center at that time and was often compared to Shaquille O’Neal who was his idol.
He was on the complete upward trajectory and was nominated for the MVP. In 2009 playoffs, he led the Orlando Magic past LeBron James and the Boston Celtics to come out of the Eastern Conference. They were beat by the Lakers in 5 Games. But the Magic had a bright future and Howard’s stock kept rising.
The two-faced Howard
Then started something which nobody so coming. In the 2011-12 season, Howard repeatedly requested a trade from the Orlando Magic. His relationship with coach Steve Van Gundy had deteriorated and Gundy didn’t like him either.
They started cussing each other in the media. Howard told the front office that the franchise would either have to give him up or Gundy. Head coach Gundy got fired from the organization. Regardless of that, Howard signed with the Lakers in the 2012 off-season.
In the Lakers, Howard had a grand entrance and it was all jolly-jolly at first. Soon after his perception changed and he started complaining that he wasn’t getting enough touches of the ball in the post. He didn’t like the pick and roll system that the NBA has shifted to recently and wanted the team to focus more on the inside. In the locker room, Steve Nash detested Howard for this habit exactly and friction happened between the team.
Then Howard got a shoulder injury and was out for the remainder of the season. Kobe was unhappy that Howard was taking so much time and started dissing him in the media. Howard felt that Kobe’s comments were unnecessary and said that it was his life at risk. Due to tensions in the locker room flaring and Kobe’s Achilles injury, the team collapsed in the 1st round of the playoffs.
Forming a pattern
Howard was traded to the Houston Rockets were he had the same experience as the Lakers and demanded the ball every time at the post instead of the pick-and-roll. James Harden and the rest of the Rockets hated this habit of Howard’s. Plus, he made very fake pep talks and compared to that does nothing in the court which became a hindrance.
This habit of his followed him wherever he went after getting trade from Houston. The Hawks didn’t like his attitude, neither did the Hornets. Washington Wizards played him just 9 games before releasing him from the contract. That was how worse it has gone for Howard.
The past is not forgiveable
He landed with the Lakers again in the 2019-20 season and this time he had changed his approach. He worked on his body and had boosted his athleticism. He played as a rotational player for the Lakers and gave a huge boost to the morale of the locker room. He stopped his earlier joking attitude and acted more like a seasoned veteran.
This came to him as a reward for him in the form of the 2020 championship. He finally got the gold in a time where CoVid-19 had hit the world. He then went to the 76ers and then back to the Lakers. But the damage had been done! In the NBA 75th Anniversary team, Howard wasn’t selected despite having so much achievements from some of the selected players. Howard’s snub hit him hard but at least he has a championship to boast about and might be in the future he gets the recognition he deserves.