DwightLife – Chapter One: The Heart

Dwight Howard’s arrival in Houston signals the arrival of one of the most dominant players in basketball, along with one of the most polarizing personalities in sports. Here at Red94, we are embracing the drama of Superman’s first season as a Rocket with a weekly column: “DwightLife.”

“What everybody says is that they don’t really know what’s going on in my heart.” – Dwight Howard, draft day 2004.

Nine years later, Dwight Howard has answered so many of the questions that dogged him on draft night. Was he ready for the NBA coming out of high school? Yes. Was he worthy of the top pick? Yes. Could he revitalize the Magic organization? Yes. Was he the right pick over Emeka Okafor? A million times, yes.

Yet as he reaches for the opening tip against Charlotte this week, wearing the uniform of his third NBA team, that thought will still echo.

“They don’t really know what’s going on in my heart.”

In Orlando, he signed a contract extension and then requested a trade. In Los Angeles, he was “happy to be here,” until he wasn’t.  And so the story of Dwight Howard has become that he is always pining for greener grass, brighter lights, a smoother road. In his heart–the story goes–Dwight Howard is always looking for a reason to quit.

But to find out where Dwight’s heart is this year, I suggest looking into another storyline: The Emasculation of Superman.

He is one of the most physically gifted athletes in the history of the game. He carried a team on which the second-best player was Hedo Turkoglu past Lebron James to the NBA Finals. In his worst statistical season since his second year in the league, he still led the league in rebounding. Yet he is being compared to Roy Hibbert after one playoff series in which the behemoth had the opportunity to push around Chris Bosh for seven games. He lost the Defensive Player of the Year award to an earthbound European who averaged less than eight rebounds per game.

If you want to know what is in Dwight Howard’s heart, I suggest you look at last Friday’s matchup with the Memphis Grizzlies.

In 15 minutes, Howard did what Howard does. He yanked 10 rebounds. He scored just six points. He still posted a plus-minus of +17 on Marc Gasol’s court, and he sent a message in other ways.

I don’t know if Dwight Howard has “the heart of a champion,” but the man won’t take any more disrespect. Maybe that’s enough.

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