Dwight Howard was once one of the brightest young names in the NBA. He was a defensive powerhouse who could throw down highlight-reel dunks and the face of an Orlando Magic team who had made it to the NBA Finals. Something changed, however, as Howard began to sever ties with the Magic and burn bridges every time he went to a new team. Now, while he is still making decent money in the NBA, the center who was once the face of ad campaigns is making extra money differently.
Dwight Howard’s rise and fall
Dwight Howard was the last NBA superstar to come straight from high school after going No. 1 in the 2004 NBA draft a year after LeBron James walked on stage and took his Cleveland Cavaliers hat. Howard immediately made an impact as a rookie, averaging a double-double and dazzling fans with his high-flying acrobatics and boy next door attitude. He was well-loved not only in Orlando but also in the NBA as a whole.
Howard continued to improve, and in just five years, he was the face of an Orlando Magic team that disposed of James’ Cavaliers and made it to the NBA Finals against the Los Angeles Lakers. Although the Magic didn’t win the series, many presumed that it would be the first of many chances to win a ring, but not long after, things started to sour.
Stan Van Gundy coached the Magic during their rise, but rumors started swirling of Howard and him not seeing eye-to-eye. Howard tried to squelch these rumors, including during an infamous 2012 media scrum he crashed as Van Gundy awkwardly sipped a Diet Pepsi. Howard was reportedly thinking about leaving, and Van Gundy was let go not long after.
That might have been the tipping point for Howard. He kept on teeter-tottering about leaving and staying until he was finally traded to the Los Angeles Lakers. That ended in disaster after one year after Howard clashed with Kobe Bryant. It was a similar story during his years in Houston. Everything since then, from Atlanta to Charlotte and Washington, appeared to be a slow descent into obscurity.
Now, he is in an unlikely place back in Los Angeles and appears to be making amends for his first stint as the Lakers’ big man off the bench.
The Dwight Howard rehabilitation tour
When Howard went unsigned during the initial free-agent frenzy in July 2019, many wondered if his career in the NBA was over. Although Howard was just two years removed from his best season in years, he had a reputation as someone who didn’t connect with teams and was not worth the hassle. When Lakers’ center DeMarcus Cousins went down with injury not long after signing, however, the Lakers gave Howard another chance.
Howard requested a non-guaranteed deal to prove that he was serious about remaining in the NBA, and the Lakers included a clause that stated he had to remain on his best behavior. Thus far, it appears to be working out for both sides. The Lakers are the best team in the NBA, and Howard is averaging a respectable seven points and seven rebounds off the bench while anchoring the second unit down low as the team gives James and Anthony Davis rest.
Howard, however, is no longer making max deals, and he is turning to a different source to make a little bit of extra money.
Howard’s side hustle? Cameo appearances
Howard has been connecting to his fans in a different way than a typical athlete would. Howard is on social media, but he is also on a service called Cameo. Cameo allows people to pay celebrities for short video messages, and Howard has jumped onboard. The results are entertaining, and also somewhat bizarre.
Howard sent one fan a Cameo while sitting on the toilet in a clip that wound up on social media. We’re not sure it that’s worth the rumored $250 price tag, but it’s certainly unique.
Howard might not be fully rehabilitated, but he is in the best place he has been in years among fans. It is still early in the process, but in a year where many thought Howard was a memory, he is proving he can not only compete in the NBA at 34 but be a teammate that others want to have around.