Dwight Howard Felt Like an ‘Afterthought’ When He Didn’t Make the NBA’s 75th Anniversary Team: ‘It Felt Like [the NBA] Was Trying to Phase Me Out’
Los Angeles Lakers center Dwight Howard was shockingly left off the NBA’s 75th Anniversary Team. While the former superstar big man wasn’t surprised by the snub, he was still hurt by it.
In a wide-ranging interview with Tyler R. Tynes of GQ, Howard was candid about his basketball career and talked about why he feels the NBA is trying to phase him out.
Dwight Howard on not making NBA’s 75th Anniversary Team: “It was upsetting”
Howard felt like an “afterthought” when he didn’t make the NBA’s 75th Anniversary Team. He had a feeling that he wasn’t going to be selected since he saw signs in previous years of the NBA phasing him out.
“I think that what I have done in my career, there’s no way it cannot be recognized,” Howard said. “It was upsetting, at first. But, I didn’t take it too seriously. I felt before that I wasn’t gonna be on it because it felt like [the NBA] was trying to phase me out. People think I’m trying to blame the NBA for certain things, but I look at how certain things have happened in my career and I know some of these things are not on me. I’ve watched how I rarely get talked about when they mention [the Lakers]. It’s like I’m an afterthought. Like damn.”
The media and fans loved Howard during his run with the Orlando Magic. However, everything changed during the 2011-12 season when rumors circulated that he wanted out. There was also that awkward interview where he put his arm around Magic head coach Stan Van Gundy after multiple reports stated that Howard wanted Van Gundy fired.
Since his Magic days ended, Howard has played for the Lakers, Houston Rockets, Atlanta Hawks, Charlotte Hornets, Washington Wizards, and Philadelphia 76ers. While his image took a significant hit after everything that happened near the end of his time in Orlando and all the drama that followed him in Los Angeles, Houston, Atlanta, and Charlotte, the stats show Howard should have been on the NBA’s 75th Anniversary Team.
Dwight Howard has had a stellar career
Howard has career averages of 16.0 points, 12.0 rebounds, and 1.8 blocks. He’s a three-time Defensive Player of the Year, eight-time All-Star, and one-time champion. The George native has also made eight All-NBA teams and five All-Defensive teams.
“I’ve been in the league a long time,” Howard said. “I’ve made an impact on every team I’ve been on, on and off the court, and it never gets recognized. So, I thought it was kind of crazy, but I figured I’d get the short end of the stick. I told my friends and the people I’m close to that I’m gonna start working harder and find other ways to generate positive messages to people. Making a list like that is only to get everybody riled up. To try to compare people’s careers, that doesn’t matter. To compare somebody to somebody else? No. We’re all unique individuals. This is a waste of energy.”
Howard should make the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame one day. Basketball Reference has his Hall of Fame probability at 99.7%. It’s mind-boggling that he didn’t make the 75th Anniversary Team, but some of the voters probably don’t like him, which wouldn’t surprise Howard if that turns out to be the case.
Lakers big man talks about “politics”
Howard believes “politics” come into play when his name is mentioned. He noticed that the media started reporting he was a locker room cancer in Charlotte and Atlanta.
In Charlotte, I averaged awesome numbers,” Howard said. “I think I was in my 14th or 15th season. And I get traded? Out of nowhere?? And once I get traded a story comes out that I was a bad teammate and a cancer in the locker room and I’m not even that type of person. When I was on the Hawks the year before that I won the Teammate of the Year award. But then this story comes out? It’s like someone is putting these stories out to lower my value. And because I don’t speak on this stuff, [people] must think it’s true. It’s a lose-lose situation when you speak on that.”
Howard finally won his first championship in 2020 during his second stint with the Lakers. He’s now accomplished everything a player can dream of, both individually and team-wise. Even though he was snubbed from the 75th Anniversary Team, Howard should be proud of the career he’s carved out.