Dwight Howard has had both a remarkable and maligned NBA career. We’re talking about a three-time Defensive Player of the Year, eight-time All-NBA, eight-time All-Star who has averaged 17.5 points and 12.7 rebounds shooting 58 percent over a 13-year career. But bring up Howard and you hear about the ugly exits from Orlando, Los Angeles, and Houston, about a guy seen as not taking himself and the game seriously enough.
Howard talks about all of this and more in a fascinating Q&A with Mark Spears at The Undefeated. Go read the entire thing. Three answers he gave stood out to me, and the first two had to do with how much longer he wants to play and if he’s already a Hall of Famer.
How much longer do you want to play?
I want to get to 20 years. Now I’m at 13.
Do you feel like you’ve built a resume worthy of induction into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame?
No doubt. It’s kind of got swept under the rug because the perception of all the things that happened in Orlando. All of the media stuff. If you look at basketball itself, and I don’t ever talk about myself, but winning three Defensive Player of the Year trophies has never been done. Leading the league in rebounding six straight years. All that kind of stuff, I think that deserves it.
Howard’s critics will hate this, but he’s right — he is a future Hall of Famer. It’s not really a debate. He’s got the resume even without a ring, and if you go by the simple criteria of “one of the best of his era” then he qualifies — he was one of the league’s best players for a five-year stretch. You can argue he should have been MVP in 2011, not Derrick Rose. If you don’t think he is a lock, you didn’t watch him play in Orlando.
The other interesting question tied into him coming out of high school straight to the NBA, and whether he thinks that’s good for players.
Should high school players be allowed to go to the NBA right out of high school now?
It’s tough, because they should be able to pursue their dreams. But at the same time, there are a lot of things you can learn in college even for [one] year that can help you adjust to [the] life of being an NBA player. It’s not as easy as what people think. It’s a little different now because you have social media and all this stuff.
It’s a whole different life. You need a little bit of that being off in college and having to take care of the little money that you get. Just learn how to really take care of yourself away from home.
Adam Silver and the NBA owners would like to thank Howard for making their argument for them.