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  • Glassford Crossfield

Is Dwight Howard a Hall of Famer?

He certainly is. Dwight Howard is without a doubt a Hall of Famer. I honestly don’t even know how someone can think otherwise. Just going off accolades alone it is clear that he belongs in the Hall of Fame. The casual NBA fan has a tendency to just look at what the media says and formulate their opinions based off that. There was a point in time in Dwight Howard’s career in which he was the best center in the NBA, and top 3 player in the league. People tend to forget this because he has some “unlikable” characteristics.

Let’s get right into the accolades. He is an 8 time NBA All-Star, a 5 time All-NBA First Team, 3 time NBA Defensive Player of the Year, 4 time NBA All-Defensive First Team, a 5 time NBA rebounding leader, and a 2 NBA blocks leader. He also consistently lead him team to the playoffs, and beat LeBron James and the Cavs to reach the Finals. During his 8 All-Star seasons Howard averaged about 20 points a game, 13 rebounds a game, 1 and a half assists, 2 and a half blocks, 1 steal, and shot 60 percent from the field. Are you seriously telling me that with this resume right here that he’s not deserving of a Hall of Fame induction?

Keep in mind that the Basketball Hall of Fame is probably the easiest professional U.S. Hall of Fame in which one can be inducted. There are far too many players in the Basketball Hall of Fame that are just considered to be very good. The Hall of Fame in my opinion should be reserved for the elite, but in the Basketball Hall of Fame it seems to be that it is reserved for some players who were good or very good, but not necessarily elite or a franchise type of player.

Off of his resume alone Howard has accomplished way more in comparison to some other Basketball Hall of Famers. Players such as Mitch Richmond, Bernard King, Adrian Dantley, Dikembe Mutombo, Bill Bradley, Jack Sikma, Vlade Divac and Yao Ming. These players mentioned were good, some even were very good, but elite? That’s very debatable. Most of the players on this list don’t have anything close in accolades in comparison to Howard, or some of their careers were derailed by injury.

Let’s talk about the reasons why some people think that Dwight Howard should not be in the Hall of Fame. For one, people just never really seemed to like his attitude. In the media he was portrayed as a fun-loving big man who at times did more smiling than playing hard. Magic Johnson always had a smile on his face, but he won championships… and many of them. When you’re smiling and people feel as though you’re not reaching your full potential, they then make the assumption that you’re not taking the game seriously. With his level of athleticism there are some people that expected more, but his elite level of defense certainly helped him out. He was being compared to Shaquille O’Neal, and was the 1st overall pick out of High School. People had high expectations of him which many people believed he didn’t reach.

He’s constantly laughing and then the media gets involved and labels him as a locker room distraction, and probably let’s the organization know that he does not want to play there in a less than professional way. Then he ends up going to L.A., then more rumors rise up about the lack of chemistry that the players have together, the fact that Kobe’s being hard on him and it’s not resonating well with him, and many people labeled him as soft. This was a very rough part of Howard’s career. Upon signing with the Lakers there was so much hype surrounding them, and there were immediate championship aspirations. That situation in L.A., very few people would have been as successful as Howard given the same circumstances.

Now Howard has openly admitted that he had back surgery and was supposed to miss the entire season, he decides to come back in 4 months and ends up giving the Lakers 17 points per game, 12 and a half rebounds a game (which lead the league), along with about 2 and a half blocks a game, while shooting 58 percent from the field. Just imagine a season-ending injury and you push through and you average 17 and 12 in a “bad” season. Mind you that most of the season he had a torn labrum. That shows me a real warrior mentality. You could tell that the Lakers lacked chemistry, and that there was a certain cloud over them for the entire season. The success that Howard had with all these distractions is pretty impressive.

People also have to realize that that Lakers situation was a lose-lose situation. They started the season with the Princeton offense with Coach Mike Brown. Brown coached 5 games, losing 4 of the 5. Brown gets replaced by Mike D’Antoni. Starting point guard Steve Nash ends up missing 30 games that season. D’Antoni’s system is not really predicated on giving Howard the amount of touches that he wanted. With all these changes happening around Howard with a bad back and torn labrum, he still put up 17 and 12 and that was considered a bad season for him. That just attests to the level in which Howard had played before.

Another reason why the casual NBA fan doesn’t think that Dwight Howard is a Hall of Famer is because he has tailed off towards the latter part of his NBA career. Recency bias is a very big thing. People tend to emphasize what a player is doing right now and use that to represent how his entire career went. After he left the Magic his career definitely did tail off, but it definitely wasn’t as bad as people are portraying it to be. Even when Howard was tailing off and not performing to the elite level that we once saw, he was still a lot better than a lot of centers in the NBA. Even after he left the Magic he constantly was in the top 5 in the NBA in rebounding, consistently averaging more than a block a game and averaged around 15 points per game as well.

Some people tend to think that as soon as Howard left Orlando that he went from Superstar to bum. These are normally the casual NBA fans that I was talking about. Since Howard has left the Magic he is averaging 16 points, 12 rebounds, 1 and a half assists, 1 steal, about 2 blocks a game, while shooting 60 percent from the field. This is on the down side of his career. The downside of his career many would hope that it would be the upside of theirs. He wasn’t the monster that we saw in Orlando, but he was more than formidable.

If people were to look past their recency bias and realize how good Dwight Howard once was, and that he is not as bad in the latter part of his career as most people think they will realize that Dwight Howard is a Hall of Famer without question. It really isn’t up for debate. At one point in time he was a player that you can build a franchise around and be a championship contender, many players that are currently in the Basketball Hall of Fame can never say that they were that kind of player.

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