Dwight David Howard is a center for the Los Angeles Lakers, who acquired him via trade in 2012. Howard was the first overall pick in the 2004 NBA draft by the Orlando Magic, with whom he played for the first eight years of his career.. Howard entered the NBA as the National High School Player of the Year and co-MVP of the McDonald’s All-America Game. He has become one of the top players in the NBA, earning six All-Star selections and three Defensive Player of the Year awards.
Howard played high school basketball at Southwest Atlanta Christian Academy. He led his team to the state championship his senior season in 2004 after losing in the championship game the previous year.
Howard, motivated by the dream of one day playing in the NBA, modeled his game after Kevin Garnett because of Garnett’s ball-handling skills and abilities. Although Michael Jordan was his favorite player growing up, Howard knew that he was built more like Garnett, and that he should learn the game based on Garnett’s approach. He was also intrigued by the idea that Garnett went directly from high school to the NBA and considered his options as a senior. The NBA scouts were awaiting his decision, as most of them felt that he was ready to play immediately.
By Howard’s junior year at Southwest Atlanta Christian Academy, he had grown to 6-10 and was dominating opposing defenses. He posted a monster year, averaging 20.0 points per game, 15.5 rebounds per game and 4.5 blocks per game and leading his team to a berth in the state championship game. He followed that up with one of the most prolific years ever in Georgia for a high school basketball player. Howard averaged 25.0 points per game, 18.0 rebounds per game, 3.5 assists per game, and 8 blocks per game on the way to leading his team to the Class A state championship.
Howard ended his career at Southwest Atlanta Christian Academy with numerous awards to his credit. He was named Georgia’s Mr. Basketball during the 2004 season after he dominated on the court. In addition, he was named as the winner of the 2004 Naismith Award, the Gatorade National Player of the Year and the McDonald’s National High School Player of the Year. All three awards labeled Howard as the best high school player in the country. If that wasn’t enough, he also was named co-MVP of the 2004 McDonald’s High School All-America game and later appeared in the Parade magazine All-America team.
Howard would leave his mark on Georgia basketball, as he had one of the most prolific careers of anyone ever to play in the state. He ended his career with 2,146 points, 1,728 rebounds and 811 blocked shots in 129 games, an average of 16.6 points per game, 13.4 rebounds per game, and 6.3 blocks per game.
Los Angeles Lakers (2012-)
During the summer of 2012, Howard reiterated his desire to be traded before the start of the 2012-13 season, with Brooklyn as his preferred destination. The Nets and Magic were unable to come to terms on a trade, leading Orlando to seek out other trade partners. On August 9, 2012, the team agreed to terms on a trade that sent Howard, Chris Duhon and Earl Clark to the Los Angeles Lakers, Andrew Bynum and Jason Richardson to the Philadelphia 76ers, Andre Iguodala to the Denver Nuggets and Arron Afflalo, Al Harrington, Josh McRoberts, Christian Eyenga, Maurice Harkless and Nikola Vucevic to Orlando. The trade was finalized the following day.
Orlando Magic (2004-2012)
Dwight Howard was selected first overall in the 2004 NBA draft at the age of 18. He averaged 12.0 points per game, 10 rebounds per game, and 1.7 blocks per game as a rookie with a playing time of a little over 32 minutes per game. He became only the eighth player in the history of the NBA to average a double-double in his rookie season.
Howard was becoming a dominant rebounder in only his first year in the league. He pulled down more than 10 rebounds 43 times and more than 20 rebounds three times. His scoring wasn’t far behind as he was learning the offensive part of the game. He scored more than 20 points 11 times in that rookie season, with a high of 29 points against the Los Angeles Clippers.
Since his rookie season, Howard’s numbers have skyrocketed in almost every category. By his second year in the league, his rebounds were up by 2.5 per game and his points were up by 3.8 per game. By his third year in the NBA, Howard’s points had gone up almost another two points per game while he averaged almost two blocks per game. He would make his first NBA All-Star team his third year in the league in 2006-07. He followed that up with two consecutive NBA All-Star appearances in 2007-08 and 2008-09.
Coming into his fourth year in the league (2007-08), Dwight Howard was clearly one of the best centers/power forwards in the NBA. He would make the All-NBA first team averaging more than 20 points per game, more than 14 rebounds per game, and nearly 3 blocks per game. In addition, his defense was steadily improving as he was named to the All-NBA defensive second team.
Howard would do one better during the 2008-09 season, as he was named the Defensive Player of the Year and All-NBA defensive first team. He again made the All-NBA first team and was establishing himself as the one of the greats of the game. He also scored a career-high 45 points against the Charlotte Bobcats in February 2009.
During the 2009 playoffs, Howard became just the fifth player in NBA history to record 20 double-doubles in a single postseason, leading the Magic to their second appearance in the NBA Finals, where they fell to the Lakers in five games. Howard was also selected to be the cover athlete of EA Sports “NBA Live 10″ video game.
In 2009-10, Howard earned another starting appearance at the All-Star Game, leading the Magic to the top of the Southeast Division, despite roster changes that saw Hedo Turkoglu leave via free agency and Vince Carter brought in via a trade. The Magic won their first eight games of the postseason, sweeping the Bobcats and the Hawks. However, in a rematch with the Boston Celtics — who they’d defeated in the 2009 playoffs — Orlando fell in six games.
Howard’s offensive game continued to improve in 2010-11, as he averaged a career-best 22.9 points per game. He also earned his third consecutive Defensive Player of the Year award, becoming the first player in league history to pull off that feat. Orlando shook up its roster in the regular season, re-aqcuiring Turkoglu and sending Carter to Phoenix, while also shipping Rashard Lewis to Washington in exchange for Gilbert Arenas. Howard remained a mainstay in the linup, leading the Magic to 52 wins. However, they were knocked out of the playoffs in the first round by the Atlanta Hawks.
The subsequent lockout-shortened season was one of turmoil for Howard and the Magic. Rumors swirled that Howard wanted to be traded, and would not sign a contract extension to stay in Orlando. Howard started the season on the Magic roster, and became the franchise’s all-time leading scorer on Jan. 24, 2012. He made his sixth consecutive All-Star team and was a first-team All-NBA selection for the fifth time.
As the 2012 trade deadline approached, rumors once again kicked up that Howard wanted to be traded, and was pushing Orlando to trade him to New Jersey to be united with Deron Williams. However, on the day of the deadline itself, Howard had a change of heart and signed paperwork waiving the early termination option on his contract, keeping him under contract in Orlando through the 2012-13 season. Howard’s season ended on a sour note, as he was forced to undergo back surgery on April 19, ending his season prematurely. The Magic were knocked out of the playoffs in the first round for the second consecutive season.
Howard entered the 2008 Slam Dunk Contest during All-Star weekend with the idea of taking home the title, after having been eliminated in the first round the year before. As unconventional as the contest has become over the years, Howard pulled out a bag of tricks that not only got the crowd excited but also showed off his array of aerial abilities.
Howard perfected several dunks that had never before been seen in the contest. On his second dunk of the first round, while standing outside the 3-point line, he tossed the ball at the rim, ran up, jumped, tapped the ball against the backboard with his left hand, caught it with his right, and slammed it.
For his first dunk of the finals, Howard used the help of a smaller basket that was placed on the backboard next to the regulation rim. It carried the basketball that he was to dunk. Howard ran up, jumped, grabbed the ball in midair off the small rim, and windmill-slammed it into the regulation rim.
For his final dunk, Howard pulled out a Superman cape and placed it around his neck, while taking off his jersey to reveal the superman shirt underneath. This got the crowd’s attention, and they stood up in anticipation of what came next. As the ball was thrown over the backboard by another player, Howard ran up from outside the 3-point line to just inside the foul line, jumped, caught the ball with both hands, and threw it in with his cape flying behind him. The dunk would win Howard the 2008 Slam Dunk Contest with 78 percent of the fan vote.
Howard would enter the 2009 Slam Dunk Contest as well, only this time he had 5-foot-9-inch Nate Robinson to contend with. As promised, before one of his dunks, Howard disappeared into a phone booth to change into his Superman outfit. When he came back out, there was a second basketball goal placed next to the regulation one. It was raised to 12 feet. Howard slammed the ball with ease, sending the crowd into a frenzy. Unfortunately for Howard, Nate Robinson would win the competition by actually jumping over Howard himself in the final round.
Dwight Howard was named to the 2008 USA Olympic basketball team that competed in Beijing and was the youngest member of the squad at only 22. Howard had been passed up for the 2004 Olympics in favor of Emeka Okafor, who was the No. 2 overall pick behind Howard in the 2004 NBA draft.
Howard would play well during the Beijing Olympics, as he was counted on heavily — he and Chris Bosh were the only true big men on the roster. In the gold medal game against Spain, Howard scored 8 points and grabbed 5 rebounds in helping Team USA to win the gold medal.
Howard missed the 2012 London Olympics after undergoing back surgery earlier in the offseason.
Dwight David Howard was born Dec. 8, 1985, in Atlanta to Dwight and Sheryl Howard. Sheryl nicknamed Dwight “The Miracle Child” after she lost seven children to miscarriage before he was born. Dwight Sr. is the athletics director for Southwest Atlanta Christian Academy and serves as a Georgia state trooper. Howard’s parents were both athletes in their younger years. His mother Sheryl played on the inaugural women’s basketball team at Morris Brown College.
Dwight Howard became a father on Nov. 18, 2007, when his ex-girlfriend Royce Reed gave birth to a son. They named the boy Braylon Joshua Robert Howard. Reed was a dancer for the Magic for a season when they met.