As the NBA Playoffs really heat up, and Steph Curry continually reminds us why he’s the best player in the world, it’s impossible to miss the “he said-he said” that is being stirred on the periphery. And at the center of it all–pun intended–one of the few remaining centers in the league, Dwight Howard. The marriage in Houston was yet another that fizzled instead of flamed, and Team Dwight is likely looking for another home in the off-season. The thing…? Nobody seems to want his services. And here are more than a few reasons why.
9. He Desperately Needed a College Career
A disclaimer: this is hardly a knock on Dwight Howard’s obvious, and awesome talent, rather his struggle to achieve performance over, or to his potential. And it all began right out of high school, when he opted out of the college experience to jump straight into the NBA to make some coin. Why wouldn’t he? He was a freak of nature, and seemed like a once in a lifetime player, very similar to Shaquille O’Neal coming out of high school. The difference? Shaq played three years of college ball at LSU, in an effort to increase his skill set, refine his game and develop as a human being. There is something to getting a lot of the childish behavior out in the university setting, as opposed to at the professional level. To a certain extent, Dwight has offered the latter on a consistent basis.
8. He Plays Without an Edge
When Dwight first started playing in the NBA, there was a fire, and a desire that has seemingly been extinguished. Ah, the beat down of a long career. It’s crazy to think that Dwight Howard has already endured a long career, despite being only 30-years-old, but he has been in the league since 2004. After leaving Orlando, and joining the Lakers, it seemed like he was a shell of the player he was in 2004-2008. The edge was gone. Superman was gone. The fun was gone. It was all business. It is a far cry from his being lauded by future Hall of Famers like Shaquille O’Neal, Tim Duncan and Kevin Garnett. They thought he was the future of the league, and the savior of the true Center, but with his departure from O-Town, there has been little more than an ember.
7. He Became Too Well Fed
How’s this for a double meaning? Dwight Howard was the man in Orlando. The man through whom all blessings flowed. The offense was built around his skill set, and physical prowess, and defensively…? Who would dare challenge this giant in the paint? As mentioned, Dwight was one of the few true centers left in the league. With the rise of players like Dirk Nowitzki, and Kevin Durant, the game rapidly changed. With the rules changes, it seemed that it would allow for a player like Dwight to be more of a scoring threat, but it had the opposite effect. Dwight wasn’t going to be the man in this NBA. Not playing with his back to the basket. It’s painfully obvious that the guy doesn’t get enough touches anymore. Being so well fed, then having his servings taken away from him? It has adversely effected his career. He should be peaking, instead, he’s fading.
6. He’s a Gun For Hire
The L.A. experiment was a joke. Dwight Howard, and a then-healthy Kobe Bryant couldn’t co-exist, much less thrive in Los Angeles. At best, Dwight was a desperation attempt to function with an aging Steve Nash, and a somewhat mobile Kobe. The team did make the playoffs, but they were without Nash once they got there. It was no surprise when Dwight opted out to go elsewhere for his next NBA adventure. Choosing Houston was a bit of a shocker, but Dwight was lured by the idea of learning to better his big man skills from NBA legend Kevin McHale, and once again become the man from whom all things flowed. Sadly, Dwight didn’t do much to better his big man skills, and with the addition of James Harden, he was hardly the man to dictate the offensive flow. Now, he’s falling into a pattern of league mercenary.
5. Doesn’t Understand the Chain of Command
Jumping back to that 2013 fiasco with the Los Angeles Lakers. Did Dwight really think he was going to come into town, and take over the squad… be The Man? Yeah. He did. He may not have said it in the media, but he certainly implied it, and his behavior on and off the court was all the proof in the puddin’. It would take a special kind of delusion to think you could step onto a court in the same uniform as Kobe Bryant, and think that somehow, you’re the most important figure in the franchise. Dwight has always struggled with the chain of command. Going back to this days in Orlando, he got along well with his teammates, but when it came to being challenged by head coach Stan Van Gundy, he pouted, complained, acted out. It has always seemed he wanted pro dollars, but no pro responsibility.
4. He’s Often Wrong, But Won’t Admit It
We’re iso’ing in on Dwight Howard’s nemesis: his ego. And in a couple more points, we’ll address the biggest strike to his ego, that has rocked his potential professional legacy. But first, a few keys to self betterment. Listen up, everyone. When you’re wrong, it helps to admit you’re wrong. If someone gloats, and holds it over you’re head, then you can rest comfortably in the fact that they’re also wrong. Dwight Howard has never been able to admit when he’s wrong. Whether he sees it as a sign of weakness, or feels like he should own all control over a situation, he struggles mightily to grow in this arena. It’s the classic paradox: you’re at your strongest in some moments of surrender. Dwight should know that.
3. Never Developed His Game
File this in the subcategory of needing a collegiate career. We’re not delusional. We know Dwight Howard was absolutely dominant as a young player in the league, but he was doing that with otherworldly physicality. When it came to sustained, long-term development, he faltered mightily. If you’re a professional basketball player, there is no reason why you can’t make free throws. It’s routine. For those who struggle, it’s clear that they’ve accepted mediocrity as their standard. Kevin Garnett is a 79 percent free throw shooter. It’s not that big men can’t shoot, but Dwight never developed his game facing the basket. He worked in the post all his life, refined it, and never went outside that comfort zone. Kevin McHale tried in Houston, but that was a relative disaster. Dwight wants to dominate his way, when he needs to adapt.
2. Baby Mama Drama
As we alluded… the end all, be all in the life of Dwight Howard. Baby. Mama. Drama. While in Orlando, Dwight got one of the Orlando Magic’s dance team members pregnant. It’s life. Things like that are gonna happen. Little did he realize, she was playing him for the sucker, and has enjoyed the spoils ever since… (until he slapped her with a lawsuit, because, as part of an agreement, she was forbidden to speak his name in public, be it press. or while she was enjoying her stint on Basketball Wives.) Let’s pause right there. If you’re Dwight Howard, how can you possibly flourish as a basketball player, and focus on milking every last ounce of your potential, when your personal life is built upon such a foundation? It didn’t help when his ex-gal claimed Dwight was abusing their son. Mercy.
1. Lacking the Right Attitude
Have you ever heard Dwight Howard proclaim, “I want to be the greatest I can be, and I’m going to do whatever it takes to get there!” There’s a reason you haven’t. Again, it’s the unavoidable snag of elite athletes who are able, at one point or another, to call themselves “the best.” The same thing happened to Shaq. But therein lies the difference between those two examples, and players like Michael Jordan or Steph Curry: where there was always more to refine–perfect. And once refined, it became about refining teammates. Dwight Howard came into the league in the spotlight, and hasn’t done a whole lot to say, “Hey, keep this spotlight on me, because you don’t want to miss what’s coming next.” Could he still be dominant? Without a doubt. Could he be one of the greatest? Hands down. But it’s wholly dependent on an attitude adjustment.