Dwight Howard made a much anticipated decision a couple of weeks ago when deciding to sign with the Houston Rockets for a less lucrative contract over the Lakers, Mavericks, Warriors, and Hawks. But the lingering question remains: will he be able to ever win a championship? To me, the answer is simple: no. Although his critics are not as harsh as LeBron’s were, he is still scrutinized. This is in part to his demeanor and more importantly, whether or not he has the motivation to win a championship.
Dwight Howard claims that he chose Houston over his other suitors because it gave him the best chance at winning an NBA title alongside a young budding star in James Harden. His reasoning behind his decision seems logical, but I can’t help but argue with whether or not he will sincerely aid in making the Rockets a contender and help them make a deep run in the playoffs. Howard can only thrive in one situation, where he is the star.
His tenure with the Magic and his time in Los Angeles were both testaments to this belief. For eight years in Orlando, D12 was a top five player in the NBA with nothing but an average supporting cast and no stars alongside him. He was probably the best center, rebounder, and interior defender in the sport, even leading his Magic team to the 2009 NBA Finals. Last year, expectations were high when he was traded to the Lakers, a team with two former MVP’s and definite Hall of Famers in Kobe Bryant and Steve Nash as well as a potential Hall of Famer in Pau Gasol. This team could not possibly fail, boasting the best starting rotation in the Western Conference and a top two starting lineup in the league. Yet, it inevitably did fail because of Dwight. A first round exit was even fortunate considering the team was not projected to make the playoffs during various points in the regular season.
Throughout the season, critics seem to notice his poor play was accredited to his attitude towards the game and his team. Howard complained about how his skill could not possibly be fully utilized in Mike D’Antoni’s system. Plus, he believed that he could not step in as the future face of the franchise since the city saw one Laker, Kobe Bryant, lead the franchise by himself for the last decade. History seems to repeat itself. Him deciding to go to a team with an already top five scoring leader in the NBA doesn’t seem to be a great decision. His problems that pertain to co-existing with other stars is an issue that can’t be easily resolved. Though it would be exciting to see if he can prove me wrong, that does not seem like it will ever come to fruition.
After his decision this offseason, he had an interview with Stephen A. Smith about the reasons for his decision and a reflection on his career. When Stephen A. posed a question about how Howard has not won a championship in his career and some say that he is not considered a “winner”, Dwight said he considers himself a definite winner. His rationale behind being a winner is “being successful in life” and having the longevity in the NBA that most players don’t possess. He compared his situation to Reggie Miller, Charles Barkley, and Patrick Ewing. He said that he labels them as winners despite lacking a championship. Stephen A., however, remarked that they didn’t identify themselves as winners until the very end after they retired. They never lost their “hunger” and gave up on their dreams of winning a championship. This difference is imperative because Howard is already satiated with his legacy and place in the NBA. He doesn’t strive for becoming more of a “winner.”
More of that interview:
I don’t think anybody is questioning his personal success and how much talent he has. He is a three time Defensive Player of the Year and seven time All-Star to go along with leading the league in blocks and rebounding on multiple occasions. But in this era, that’s unfortunately simply not enough to be considered a winner. By Howard’s logic, LeBron was a “winner” way before he won the elusive title in 2011. Also, longevity is under no circumstance, a true scale to compare Howard to a player that has a three year playing career. Howard is not an “average” NBA player, he is much more because of his rare athleticism in an almost seven foot body. Whenever basketball fans think of winning, they don’t think about personal accomplishments or even winning a gold medal at the Olympics. What they do think of, is that ring to put on a finger or that banner that can be held up high in an arena or meeting President Obama at the White House.
I can’t say that I’m 100% certain that Dwight Howard has reached the zenith of his career, but not much more can be done. A combination of his attitude towards the sport and his low motor definitely attribute to him not reaching his maximum potential. It’s a disappointing realization, but this seems to be reality.