Yahoo Sports’ NBA writer Adrian Wojnarowski just posted a feature column on the purported re-birth of Houston Rockets star center Dwight Howard.
Woj’s in-depth analysis chronicled the mercurial Howard’s rehabilitation from shoulder and back injuries. It also referenced the Rockets center comparing the public criticism he receives to that of the late NBA Hall of Fame center Wilt Chamberlain.
However, what the NBA writer’s column surprisingly didn’t address is what every basketball fan knows; i.e. Howard’s immense physical skills pale in comparison to the evident mental and physical lapses in his overall game.
And, that is where a re-birth, a transformation and an all out fresh start are needed for the petulant Howard to become an NBA champion.
Just replay any NBA video from 18 months ago. As a member of the Los Angeles Lakers, Howard’s “Dwight-mare” of a basketball season ended both ignominiously and fittingly with an embarrassing sweep in the first round of the NBA Playoffs.
NBA fans observed his lack of leadership, his paucity of discipline, poor passing from the post and several inexcusable, selfish acts on the court. Not once did fans see Howard huddle his teammates together or openly demand more out of them, or better yet, himself.
Booed by his own fans and maligned by a Twitterverse, Howard deserved criticism. NBA fans witnessed Howard’s continued passive demeanor and petty pouting during timeouts or stops in play.
And, it didn’t change when he changed geography to Houston.
Fast forward from the early exit in Los Angeles to last season when NBA fans voiced their opinion of Howard in NBA All-Star Game voting.
Since receiving 3.1 million votes in 2009, Dwight Howard’s popularity with fans has revealed a steady drop.
NBA fans cast 2.3M votes for him in 2010, 2.1M in 2011, 1.6M in 2012, 922,000 in 2013 and only 653,000 this past year.
Last season’s first round NBA Playoffs loss to the Portland Trailblazers proved once again that any rebirth as an elite NBA player needs to begin with his leadership skills and his ability to carry his team to a playoff series victory. And, Howard has done neither.
Sure, basketball junkies might be able to live with D12’s woeful free throw shooting and developing overall offensive game. However, none want to cast their All-Star vote for an immature, undisciplined and still unproven (in the NBA Playoffs) talent.
Like Wojranowski, I’d like to witness a Dwight Howard re-birth, too. And, not just the re-birth of his physical skills.
I would like to see the long and “whining” road that Dwight Howard embarked upon in Orlando, that ended badly in Los Angeles and that is continuing to be traveled in Houston, eventually strengthen him.
May Dwight Howard learn from last season’s All-Star snub and early NBA Playoffs exit, and may he quickly silence the snickerers.
Most importantly, may D12 eventually mature into the player and man that NBA fans can admire both on and off the court.
MIKE – thee ultimate talking head on sports!