Dwight Howard: the NBA’s 2009 Defensive Player of the Year

I like Dwight Howard.

First, he looks good in a blue uniform, even if it does have a red cape hanging off the back of it.

Second, he seems like a genuinely good guy. He was robbed at the slam dunk competition. Nate Robinson won with a dunk jumping off someone’s back, a dunk my sons do all the time, and with a dunk pushing up on a stationary player… a dunk I used to do back when my body let me. If Dwight was upset by that, no one could tell. Mr. Howard was as gracious and good natured as always.

Third, Dwight Howard is refreshingly not full of himself as most NBA players seem to be — especially the elite ones. Shaq can be playful, but boy does Shaq pack an ego as well, but Dwight Howard can laugh at himself, and can do it without effort.

That said, Dwight sure disappointed me at the Olympics.

Spain learned that fouling Dwight Howard was roughly the equivalent of Dwight committing a turnover, seeing as Dwight was shooting 48.4 percent from the free throw line and Spain could get the ball back with little if any damage done.

But with the Orlando Magic this year, Dwight led the NBA in both blocked shots and rebounds, averaging 13.8 rebounds and 2.9 blocks per game this season. It was Dwight’s second consecutive season at leading the NBA in rebounds.

I’m sorry, but regardless how you feel about the Dwight Howard, it takes some real hustle and work ethic to pull that off.

The only other players to lead the NBA in rebounds and blocks in the same regular season were Bill Walton, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Hakeem Olajuwon and Ben Wallace. There are some impressive defenders on that list.

And Dwight was just 23 years old when he did it. In fact, last year Howard was the youngest ever rebounding leader in the history of the NBA. This year, Dwight is the youngest person to ever receive the Defensive Player of the Year award.

Were there other worthy candidates of the honor?

Certainly.

The first person people are going to name is LeBron James, who came in distant second in the balloting. Then came Miami’s Dwyane Wade, Houston’s Shane Battier and Ron Artest, and New Orleans’ Chris Paul, and the Lakers’ Kobe Bryant. Also on the list of vote getters was the Lakers’ Trevor Ariza.

If these canditates don’t quite square with yours, blame the panel of 119 sportswriters and broadcasters from the United States and Canada, not me.

I think this award should be voted on by the coaches who face these players each game.

But congratulations to a genuinely good guy and, frankly, a good defender.

Dikembe Mutombo asked me how I wanted to be remembered,” said Dwight Howard. “Did I want to be remembered as a guy who win the slam-dunk contest in a Superman outfit? No, I want to be remembered as one of the greatest players. The focus had to be on defense.”

Well done.

Howard received a car with his award which he immediately donated to an Orlando children’s nursery.

  1. Robert DominguezRobert Dominguez05-30-2009

    Dwight Howard has a great attitude. He is a great basketball player, who is getting better. He is a positive role model. All high profile pro athletes are role models. It is just that some are positive role models and some are negative role models. He is not perfect, but I am sure he will not be getting arrested for weapons charges, disturbing the peace, drug possession, DUI, fighting in night clubs,rape, etc. This leads me to believe that he won’t be getting too much press coverage. I am sure it is okay with him. He produces for the Orlando Magic on that basketball court,and this will be hard to ignore. He is a champ.

  2. TimTim06-11-2009

    I think it’s possible you are getting Dwight Howard mixed up with somebody else. Dwight Howard is a con man with his fake smile. Not to mention, he is known for elbowing and hacking players on the court. This guy is a disgrace to professional basketball, and I watch every game in the finals hoping somebody puts a championship in his face. If you want to talk about players with good attitudes in Florida, look at Dwayne Wade. That’s a champ. As far as i’m concerned, Dwight Howard isn’t a champ, he’s a chump.

    Go Kobe!

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