Dwight Howard’s Glimpse Into The Future
Skin of his team’s teeth not included.
Timeline–Oct. 1, 2009. Location: the RDV Sportsplex in Orlando.
Dwight Howard sat back in front of the NBA spotlight this Thursday morning, his first time since bolting the Amway Arena at the conclusion of the Magic’s devastating sweep at the hands of the Kevin Garnett-less Boston Celtics.
Taking up what would be two seats on a bench for any normal-sized human, the Man Child felt the glare of the TV camera on his face for the first time since May 10. Behind the blinding/searing light of the TV cameras sat what seemed like a sea of reporters—many of them likley bitter holdovers from the post-game presser D12 bailed on after Game 4. Others were still mad that he didn’t show for the official end-of-season presser a few days later.
The L stepped in, handing the big man fines that were as heavy as Dwight himself. He gladly bit the bullet Mark Cuban-style, matching the fines with charitable donations. Still, he remained silent. Until now.
“Dwight’s available to answer your questions,” a Magic PR-rep said, trying to break the silence that hung over the scrum. Truth was, the press had no idea what to expect out of Howard. Even the loud-mouthed, HOW-EVA dropping scrum-hogging journalist types stayed silent, choosing to study the big man’s demeanor before even thinking about trying to find a way to subtly ask, “What the hell happened to you, man?”
In a near whisper, behind the shoulder shove of a veteran beat writer, an intern sheepishly piped up.
“Dwight…a tough off-season for you, obviously. Can you talk about how you spent the summer? Why did you seclude yourself like this?”
“It was just…we had it,” he began. “We were up 28 points in Game 1, at the Garden.”
With calmness in Howard’s voice, the tension seemed to be sucked out of the room. Unfortunately, it filled Dwight’s chest.
“We had a great season, up until Boston. And now...,” he paused again, this time looking at his feet. Fresh new sneaks from adidas—the Team Signature Commander LT—there were cases of them waiting for him when he finally started accepting his mail.
“And now we’ve got 82 more games and another playoff series or two to go through before we can try to right that wrong. But that’s what we’ve got to do. You can’t go back and change it.”
Before he could drop the standard, “it is what it is,” Howard blinked and suddenly heard nothing. A second later the hum of the Sportsplex’s lighting was replaced with a frenzied crowd and the parquet of the Garden. He shook his head. Pinched himself. Shook off the urge to go after a heckler. He looked at his feet: the shoes were the same. A look at the scoreboard showed Howard he was back where he had wanted to be for the last five months. Dream or no, he wouldn’t let it happen to his team twice.
Post game, with the bullet successfully dodged, Howard seemed a lot happier to some than he should have. Stan Van Gundy called the last 16 minutes of the game a debacle, but was happy to get the win.
“We got complacent as a team, stopped doing what we did to get the lead and against a good Celtics team you can’t do that,” Howard said. “You don’t want to focus on them coming back. We still won the game and we saw what we have to do to win the series.”
He looked at his shoes and thought about the giant-sized seat he was filling during media day in Orlando, seemingly moments ago. Howard got on the bus, where his tired but relieved teammates greeted him. The tension in his chest was gone, replaced with hope for Game 2 and a feeling of deja-vu.