Free agent center Dwight Howard has every right to feel some way about being left off the NBA 75th Anniversary Team. He’s a three-time consecutive defensive player of the year (from 2009-2011), eight-time NBA All-star, and finished second in MVP voting in 2011 behind Derick Rose. In his long list of accomplishments throughout his career, Howard, like many of us, wondered why he wasn’t chosen for this list. As he spoke on a recent episode of Fox Sports’ Shannon Sharpe’s podcast Club Shay Shay, Howard almost retired over the omission.
“I was very surprised that I wasn’t put on the list,” Howard said. “When I saw that I wasn’t on the list, I was really upset. I really was just wanting to say, do I even want to play basketball no more? Like, what am I playing for? I’ve did all this stuff, I’ve accomplished all these things, I feel like I’ve been a great ambassador for the NBA and the game globally. I feel like that was just the disrespect, total disrespect.”
How does a player who sits 10th all-time in rebounds, 13th in blocks, is an 8-time All-NBA team selection, a gold medalist, and averaging a double-double for 14 consecutive seasons be left off that list? It doesn’t make any sense. Howard was a significant part of the Orlando Magic franchise during his prime and led that team to an NBA Finals appearance in 2009.
Given all of these accolades, I feel that a lot of Howard’s late career history came into play. The rift between himself and former Magic coach Stan Van Gundy eventually led to Van Gundy getting fired and Howard being traded to the Lakers. Then, his clash with the late, great Kobe Bryant (remember when he called him soft?) and the overall underachieving Lakers team pushed Howard to stops at the Houston Rockets, Atlanta Hawks, Charlotte Horners, and Washington Wizards. (that’s a lot of teams). Howard was still productive until injuries caught up to him in Atlanta.
Maybe it was his overall goofiness or ongoing feud with Shaq about who holds the Superman title, but regardless, Howard should have been on that list. Even if his playing days are done, maybe there’s money in Howard and Shaq taking their beef to Wrestlemania in April.