Thursday, September 23rd, 2010 at 3:36 pm  |  30 responses

Links: Talking With Dwight Howard

On video games, NBA Elite and Orlando’s title chances…

by Lang Whitaker | @langwhitaker

On Tuesday, October 11, both EA Sports and 2K Sports will release their newest basketball video games: EA will drop NBA Elite 11, and 2K will present NBA 2K11. If you’re a basketball fan and a gamer, you know the deal. EA came first, dropping games all the way back to the Sega Genesis days (anyone remember Live 95?), but 2K arrived in 1999, and has made steady inroads ever since. Each fall, both games drop, and gamers spend hours and days and weeks not only playing the games, but also arguing over which game is better.

This year is no different, and even though we’re a couple of weeks out from either game dropping, both companies have invaded Manhattan this week to show off their wares. (For whatever it’s worth, I haven’t played the full version of either game yet, so I’m withholding judgment. Once I’ve had a chance to play both I’ll blog about them here.)

Earlier today I went over to EA’s Triple Double Event space near Herald Square that’s set up for the launch of Elite 11. It’s basically a huge pop-up shop where everything’s free, and it’s open all weekend. They’ve got old games, NBA Jams, even a barber in case you need a fresh cut.

As far as Elite, EA thinks this game is so advanced from their longtime NBA Live series that they dropped the Live name. I played the demo game the last two nights and at least from a controls perspective it’s very different than Live, with the two joysticks controlling everything, from dribbling to passing. I found the dribbling very intuitive, but the other stuff is taking some adjusting on my part.

dwightslamcoverThis afternoon, EA had current SLAM cover dude (and last year’s NBA Live cover-er) Dwight Howard in their house, so I swung by to catch up with him…

SLAM: Did you play a lot of video games growing up?

DWIGHT: Yeah, I used to have a whole set-up in the basement.

SLAM: What was your game back then?

DWIGHT: I played Live. We also played Madden, but the big game was Live.

SLAM: Who was your team back then?

DWIGHT: The Lakers and the Knicks. This was on Live 97. As I got older it didn’t matter.

SLAM: Do you still play games now?

DWIGHT: Mm-hmm, all the time.

SLAM: When?

DWIGHT: At night before I go to bed, I’ll play for like an hour, just chill.

SLAM: I do the same thing and my wife doesn’t get it.

DWIGHT: She’s like, Don’t do it?

SLAM: Well, it’s more like she doesn’t understand why I like to play video games, and I had to explain that’s how I relax.

DWIGHT: Yeah, you just play. I play sometimes to get myself to sleep, to get away from whatever I’m doing. Maybe I’ll go online, play a game against somebody.

SLAM: Do you go on and play against random people?

DWIGHT: I do play against some friends, but I like playing online against random folks. I haven’t done it lately because they’ll be cheating, and then if they’re losing they quit the game, so it’s not fun.

SLAM: Do you have the headset on? Do you talk to people?

DWIGHT: I do. Half the time they don’t know, so I don’t really say nothing.

SLAM: Do you play with the Magic?

DWIGHT: Yeah, any time I’m playing basketball I play with the Magic. If I’m playing Madden, I’ll play with any team that has a fast quarterback so you can roll out, or any team that has a new running back.

SLAM: Have you played the new Elite?

DWIGHT: I haven’t played the new Elite. I know it’s very different, from having the real faces to the controls being very different — everything’s on the left side, and I’m used to the right side. But it sounds cool.

SLAM: You ready to get back to basketball?

DWIGHT: Training camp starts Tuesday. We have media day on Monday. I’m very excited. Our team has been working extremely hard in the offseason. We’ve been in the gym together working out, and everybody’s been doing whatever we needed to do to get ready for the season.

SLAM: What have you personally done to get ready for the season?

DWIGHT: I trained every day, twice a day. In the morning there’s weights and track stuff, and at night I work on post moves and shooting.

SLAM: You’ve obviously let yourself go this summer, let your body fall out of shape.

DWIGHT: (Laughs) Who me? Nah. I mean, I took a little time off, but in the process of taking time off I always made sure I kept my body right — push-ups, sit-ups. I didn’t want to get out of shape.

SLAM: How many push-ups do you do?

DWIGHT: We start off doing 100 a day, then 200 a day, then get up to 400. Same with sit-ups. We just do it all day.

SLAM: Are you tired of people asking you about LeBron and the Heat?

DWIGHT: It’s nothing against those guys, and those guys are all great players, but when you hear something over and over and over again, it’s a turn off, because there are other teams and players in the NBA. If you focus on one team it will work against you. I’m more concerned with what we do as a team when we play Miami. We could beat Miami four times but lose the rest of the games. So we’re focused on playing everybody. They’re going to be a good team, but our main goal is to win a championship. Everything we do is geared toward getting to the Finals and winning.

SLAM: I talked to LeBron a couple of weeks ago and he said he thought the reason Boston made the Finals last season was that they were the most consistent team in the East.

DWIGHT: Yeah, they were, they were very consistent and they picked it up toward the end of the season. Any time you have a team like Boston, you know that they’re always going to be at the top or around the top every year, because they have veterans and they know how to win. That’s why they went to the Finals, because they were consistent and they played hard.

SLAM: How does the Orlando Magic get to the Finals this season?

DWIGHT: Just being consistent. Being physical, tough. I don’t think there’s a team that’s forgotten about us. Every team is looking forward to playing the Magic and they know we’re a tough team. Other people may have forgotten about our team, which is cool, because we’ve always been underdogs, underestimated. That doesn’t really matter. We don’t play to prove ourselves to people, we play to win a championship.

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  • http://www.slamonline.com Eboy

    Love that pic. Nice interview too….Dwight seems like a really nice dude. But enough with the formalities. We’re 12 days from the release of 2K11 (sorry Live/whatever your called now) and that is going to be stupid good. I played the demo. It’s so good. The best part of my experience was having my kid see Rondo’s face during the load screen and yelling “Ill, RONDOOOOOOO”. In the Eboy household, Kobe Bryant isn’t the only guy that gets hate!!! I’ve tried to tell him Rondo’s nice, but he ain’t having it.

  • JTaylor21

    EA doesn’t deserve to be called NBA elite bcuz ain’t a DAMN thing elite bout this game. 2K11>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>Live11

  • http://slamonline.com Bryan Crawford

    That’s funny, Eboy. Considering my stance, Bron Bron actually gets love in my household from my son. I’ve tried to explain to him that it’s Kobe, all day, but my son says it’s OK to like them both. Kids… Gotta love ‘em!

  • http://slamonline.com Ben Osborne

    Solid. Big multi-media week for Dwight.

  • http://www.hoopsvibe.com/features/overdribbling chiqo

    ea has gotta hook dwight up with a game if they’re gonna have him at events. you can have someone pubbing elite who hasn’t played it.

  • http://www.shawnkemp.com Masr

    Dwight seems like a really cool dude.

  • http://www.bulls.com Enigmatic

    My 5-year old daughter already knows, you ask her who’s her favorite player and she’ll tell you “Derrick Rose! And Michael Jordan is the greatest basketball player EVER!” My son is only 1 but he’s bout to know what’s up too.

  • http://www.need4sheed.com Tarzan Cooper

    Ill be busy with 2k11 and black ops

  • http://www.bulls.com Enigmatic

    No doubt, 2k11 will be THE game to cop as far as NBA games.

  • http://www.youtube.com/user/Uncle05Sam Earl

    Why didn’t you guys put this in the magazine?! The extra page would make it a little bit more sturdy. . .

  • JTaylor21

    Word up Tarzan, I already put down my bones for both 2k11 and black ops when they drop.

  • http://www.triplejunearthed.com/dacre Dacre

    I’ve been a ‘Live’ man right back to NBALive95. The year before that was a little game called ‘Bulls -vs- Blazers’. (In Australia the console was called a Sega Megadrive). I’ve owned every version of NBALive from 1995 to 2006. Swtching it up from the megadrive to the PSone/PS2 at the appropiate times. 2007 saw a lull, whereby the 07-09 editions of Live were letting me down badly and I never renewed, just kept at 06. For me 2k10 ushered in a new era and I ‘turned’ to the 2k world… It’s been great. The realism of interaction drew me in – I was hating the “arcade-y” feel of Live but 2k10 got me the mature and sophisticated game-play I was after.
    I don’t play online unfortunately. I’ve played one single game at a friends house, he has XBOX live and I took my 2k10 game over there, played some guy (he was the nuggets) with PHX and he was leading right up until the 4th quarter and then he only scored 4 points in the period – straight after the game he felt I was cheating and I hadn’t. Just really really handled my team the Suns well for a stretch… I want to compare Elite and see if my hiatus from EA is over.

  • http://hibachi20.blogspot.com Moose

    Eboy, why does your kid have the Rondo hate?? Man…

  • JTaylor21

    @Dacre, well welcome to reality. I was also a Live brainwashing victim until about 07 when I was shown the light and found 2K in my life. I’ve been addicted since and can’t even look at a EA game without having violent relapses. 2K saved my life and it could do the same to many other Live victims.

  • http://www.bulls.com Enigmatic

    I had every Live game until NBA Live 2003, with Jason Kidd on the cover. That was the year I said “wait a minute, there’s way too many fast breaks, it’s waaay too easy to break cats off the dribble, this is more like an NBA Street game”. Had to switch it up to 2K. And speaking of 2K, when the HELL are they gonna bring back College Hoops? I STILL pull out my old College Hoops 2K8 with Greg Oden on the cover. I miss that joint.

  • http://www.slamonline.com Eboy

    Moose, he’s hated Rondo since the playoff loss the Heat took. He tries to punch the tv when he sees him. I dont know why he singled him out but he knows Shaq’s there now, so he likes that. He’s a bit of a mess. Actually, it probably didn’t help him hear me say over the course of 5 games “fuc$ing Rondo” while he was kicking our asses.

  • http://pardonthedopeness.blogspot.com DP

    Real dope interview. Dwight is one of my favorite dudes to see “off” the court. He still is dope on the court but his post moves still hella weak to me.

  • http://joeloholic.wordpress.com Joel O’s

    Bulls vs Lakers and the NBA Playoffs was my favourite game when I was six. The special moves were wacky though, press shoot when you’re on the move at a specific spot and really good players will do an unstoppable move. Magic’s was the best, this fake no look pass to a layup move. I don’t know how EA has managed to screw up such a big lead though. Honestly, every Live game after 2003 or 2004 was terrible.

  • http://joeloholic.wordpress.com Joel O’s

    I wonder if, when Dwight plays NBA Live with the Magic, virtual Dwight gets more than 10 field goal attempts.

  • http://Slamonline.com Caboose

    so can we expect some more refined post moves from dwight this year if he’s been working at them every night this offseason? im a big dh12 fan and I really hope we can see an improved game from him in 2010-11.

  • http://hibachi20.blogspot.com Moose

    Eboy, when’s the kid gonna get on SLAMonline?? I wanna smack that hate right back in his face. Just kidding…

  • David

    Good one Joel. I wonder if VC still takes ill-advised shots, too.

  • http://www.boogiewilliams.com Boing Dynasty

    Been 2K since Dreamcast. Ya, Dreamcast.

  • http://wealwayswin.net Hersey

    lol @Joel

  • http://slamonline.com Allenp

    I read this other interview where Dwight said something like this about Miami: “Anytime you have two superstars and an All-Star, well I guess you could say a third superstar…”
    Now, I’m not saying that’s inaccurate, but I think that if Chris Bosh hears about it he’s going to be more than a little pissed.

  • http://www.slamonline.com Eboy

    Until the Dwyane, Lebron and Bosh got together…people routinely called Bosh one of the top three PF forwards in the game. Now that’s he play with two supernova stars, he’s kind of being regulated down to Udonis Halsem status. For the Heat, that’s a good thing. This is a guy with a similar skill set to Pau Gasol. Let’s not forget that. Not saying he’s better…..be he’s no worse.

  • http://www.slamonline.com Eboy

    But….you didn’t hear that from me. Let the nuthuggers continue to try and sway with you the argument that Ron Artest will neutralize Lebron James therefore rendering Bron a non factor in the matchups the Heat will have with the Lakers. Or maybe the Youtube generation will look up last years two games the Lakers played the Cavs and see just how inefficient Ron was in dealing with Bron and let’s not even discuss Kobe. He better be saving those surgically repaired knee and busted fingers for long nights of chasing the deadliest two-guard in the league. But you didn’t hear that from me.

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  • AI TO MIAMI!!!

    i been tellin my mates 2k11 is da game man but they just dont know it. why did live change it to elite? that sounds stupid. i cant wait fo this game man. wish it would just come out now haha. and im exactly da same with howard. just b4 i go sleep i be on that game. but 1 game aint good enuff haha its so addictive. i find myself playin fo like almost 4 hours haha. its a good thing i dont have a girl or any kids yet haha well im still young! but yea 2k11 game of da year!