It’s taken 15 enduring seasons in the NBA, but Los Angeles Lakers center Dwight Howard has won his first-ever NBA championship. Other than a few names, Howard may be the most-deserving Laker to raise this year’s championship trophy. Check out this look at Howard’s illustrious career, a hall of fame worthy career that added NBA champion to its resume.
Dwight Howard Wins Coveted First Ring
Dwight Howard: The Double-Double Machine
From the very first season that Howard stepped foot on an NBA court, his play was synonymous with several player molds. The most fitting, perhaps, is “double-double machine.”
Dwight Howard averaged a double-double in points and rebounds in each of his first 14 seasons. An uber-athletic big-bodied center, Howard had an impeccable radar for bringing down boards. In multiple seasons during the late ’00s, Howard averaged nearly 15 rebounds and 20-plus points per game.
He spent his first eight seasons with the Orlando Magic, propelling Orlando to an NBA Finals appearance in 2009. Magic fans fondly remember the devastating pick-and-roll game of Jameer Nelson and Howard, which resulted in thunderous alley-oop after thunderous alley-oop.
Random Orlando Magic Highlight of the Day:
Because we all need some basketball in our lives right now.
Jameer Nelson alley-oop to Dwight Howard. Oh take me back to the day. pic.twitter.com/Q7ugqCpqzn
— Orlando Pinstriped Post (@OPPMagicBlog) March 17, 2020
Standing at 6-foot-10 and weighing 265 pounds, Howard’s athleticism allowed him to soar above nearly every big-man in the NBA during his prime. Of course, this checks Howard’s box as an elite “lob-threat.”
It’s not proper to tell the story of Howard’s career without mentioning his theatrics in the NBA Dunk Contest. “Superman” earned invites to participate in four dunk contests and brought home the trophy in 2008.
Flashback to @DwightHoward’s previous Dunk Contests in 2007, 2008 and 2009 before he participates in this year’s #ATTSlamDunk! #StateFarmSaturday (2/15) coverage begins at 8pm/et on TNT. pic.twitter.com/mGKskusQ8R
— NBA History (@NBAHistory) February 13, 2020
The eight-time All-Star, eight-time All-NBA, five-time All-Defensive Team, and three-time Defensive Player of the Year is a natural shot-blocker. Howard led the league in blocks in both 2008 and 2009, averaging at least 2.8 blocks per game in each of those seasons.
Pivotal Career Moments
After eight seasons with the Magic, the arc of Howard’s career slightly changed. In 2012, Howard was traded to the Lakers as part of a four-team blockbuster trade. Los Angeles had championship aspirations, acquiring both Howard and Steve Nash to add to an impeccable roster of All-Stars. This roster already featured Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol, and Metta World Peace.
Yet, the experiment of star power didn’t go as planned. Amidst a season of off-court drama, the Lakers finished 45-37 for the Western Conference seventh seed. Los Angeles was swept in the first round by the San Antonio Spurs and the experiment was broken up soon after.
Howard spent his next six seasons bouncing around four different franchises and struggling with injuries. As many great players do late in their careers, Howard faced a difficult option. Put his pride aside and take a smaller role on a team with championship aspirations.
Luckily for Howard, LeBron James and the Lakers came calling. Howard signed with Los Angeles as a free agent in August of 2019. Coming off the bench, he saw his minutes reduced to just 18.7 per game. Yet, Howard still averaged 7.5 points, 7.3 rebounds, and 1.1 blocks during the regular season.
And after the most uncertain year in league history, Howard walked away from the Disney Bubble as an NBA Champion.
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