Before Dwight Howard alienated fans with the ugly way he exited the Orlando Magic, followed by a severely disappointing stint with the Los Angeles Lakers, he was one of the game’s most popular players, and his participation in All-Star weekend’s slam dunk contest was the primary reason why.
Howard pulled off the sticker dunk in 2007, won the contest in 2008 with his Superman gimmick, and entertained in 2009 by allowing Nate Robinson to dunk over him to take home the title.
With All-Star weekend being held in New Orleans this year, the same place where Howard won the contest in ’08, the league extended an invitation to see if he might want back in. But this time, Howard politely declined.
“Couldn’t do it,” Howard said.
Howard, 28, said he would participate again, “If I wasn’t so old. I’m getting up there in age, man, I tell you. I got a lot of years.”
Howard, however, said he had thought about that night just because with the return to New Orleans.
“It was a night to remember,” Howard said. “It was probably one of the best memories of me being in the NBA being in the dunk contest here in New Orleans. The fans were amazing here. Every time I come in this building, I get chills thinking about it.”
Howard has done his part in making the dunk contest a special event, and after participating three straight years, it’s more than understandable that he’d want to continue to take a break from being the event’s star performer. Skipping the event also helps in continuing to rehabilitate his image as a player more focused on winning than silliness in his current role with the Houston Rockets.