ORLANDO – Superstar center Dwight Howard’s Eastern Conference squad didn’t win the 61st NBA All-Star Game and he didn’t even see the ball much throughout the game, effectively killing any chance of the hometown hero winning the MVP award.
But none of it mattered on this night to the six-time all-star and the NBA’s leading all-star vote-getter. Nothing at all was going to derail the immense pride that Dwight felt Sunday night over how he and his hometown city of Orlando put on a dazzling show as hosts of the NBA All-Star Game.
“The whole weekend I soaked in the environment. Thank you for Orlando for everything we did this weekend because we all did a good job,” Dwight said after scoring nine points, grabbing 10 rebounds and handing out three assists in the Western Conference’s 152-149 victory against the East. “I haven’t seen this town like this since The Finals (in 2009). The city was on fire. It’s just been great. A lot of celebrities came out and I know a lot of them had fun. My teammates just loved the whole experience of being down here. They had a good time and loved our arena.”
As the centerpiece of the Magic and the unquestioned best big man in the NBA, Dwight was the centerpiece of the four-day basketball extravaganza in Orlando. It was a title that he wore with great pride, knowing full well that the All-Star Game was being played in Orlando largely because of the success he’s brought to the Magic with his dominant play.
Dwight made sure not to allow the questions about his uncertain future to detract from Orlando serving as host of the All-Star Game for the first time since 1992. All the way to the end, Dwight kept the attention on Orlando’s big opportunity to shine under the watchful eye of the basketball world.
“I don’t want to talk about it. We had a great weekend and there’s no need to talk about that (trade) stuff right now,” Dwight smartly said. “Let’s stick with what we’ve been talking about – having a good time. That’s what I’ve been focusing on. Even though the game is the last big event, we still want people to enjoy themselves.”
In the days leading up to Sunday’s game, several Eastern Conference stars talked about their desire to help Dwight win the MVP award. In the previous 60 years of the game, the MVP had come from a player from the host city of the game.
But as is often the case in these games, it became apparent early on that Dwight would have no shot at the MVP award because of the guards who dominated the ball. Dwight had four field goals – three putbacks and an alley-oop dunk – and didn’t seem too bothered by the lack of chances to score.
“I wasn’t really tripping about that. I just wanted to have fun,” Dwight said. “For me, it was just about being out there and I didn’t really care about having the ball. The guards have the ball and they are the one who pass it. Unless you want me to bring the ball down the court every time?”
Again, nothing was going to upset Dwight on a night when he swelled with pride over how the city of Orlando shined as the host of basketball’s biggest spectacle.
“The show was the whole weekend and not just about the game,” he said. “Me and my team we did our best to put on a show for the city and the rest of the NBA. I just thank all of the fans for coming out to all of my events and supporting me. I had so much fun all weekend.”