Vaguely Literary: Dwight Howard + Ender’s Game

NBA coaching legend Phil Jackson used to give his players books to read. Each book was given to a player for a very specific reason, and that book was taken politely and tossed in the back of a locker. Judging from the grammar in NBA player tweets, many of them—like most of us—should read more. Now that Phil has moved on, we need someone to recommend books to NBA players. We don’t have PJ on our list of contributing writers, but we do have a high school English teacher.—Ed.

dwight howard + ender's game

by Sam Rubenstein / @samrubenstein

Dwight Howard, I suggest that you read Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card. It’s a sci-fi tale of a supremely gifted but misunderstood boy thrown into a world where nothing less than victory is expected of him. Ender is an innocent kid and he just wants to have fun, eat candy and be loved by all. Like what you’re hearing so far, Dwight?

He goes off to battle school in space—remember, it’s sci-fi—where the curriculum is geared toward preparing to battle and overcome a vicious race of alien bugs. Defeat is not an option, and along the way there are lots of angry people screaming at poor little Ender. Since he has the greatest talent, he has to be the greatest warrior. They all have his best interests at heart, just like Stan Van Gundy and Mike D’Antoni did…or did they?

Ender has a cruel, vicious, sadistic, megalomaniacal older brother bent on global domination. These are traits you might have noticed in your former teammate Kobe Bryant. He’s not so kind to Ender. Another mentor of his is the great general Mazer Rackham, beloved by all, and his shadow looms over Ender. This would be like your time in post-Shaq Orlando and L.A. Basically, everyone is telling Ender he has to be a serious general, the last and greatest hope for humanity, but that’s not what he wants to be.

Things don’t go so well for Ender at Battle School, so he has to leave and return somewhere normal, like earth. You recently employed a similar strategy. Once you’ve spent time in L.A., with those Championship expectations and all of the delightful weirdness L.A. has to offer, it’s safer to go to Houston. Enjoy it. But be warned, Ender had to go even deeper into space to fight the ultimate battle. We know your calendar has time marked off for hijinx with The Beard, but Ender’s Game can be read pretty quickly, and it will tell you what to do this year.

Previously: Rajon Rondo + The Catcher in the Rye