A few weeks ago, initial reports suggested that Los Angeles Lakers center Dwight Howard would be re-entering the Slam Dunk Contest for the first time in over a decade. It was something that Howard denied after being made aware of the reports, which put a bit of a cloud over his entry in the event. The entire matter has now become resolute with former Slam Dunk Contest champion confirming his participation that came about in an intriguing manner.
Dwight Howard’s career resurgence with Lakers
In the months leading into the 2019-20 season, there was no clarity on what type of player Howard would be in his 16th campaign. He was coming off an injury-riddle campaign while he didn’t draw a significant amount of interest from around the league in free agency.
Instead, it was a unique opportunity with the Lakers that opened up after DeMarcus Cousins’ ACL tear that allowed him to return to the franchise. Howard took on the challenge of playing on a non-guaranteed contract that has seen him make the most of his second stint with the Lakers.
The 34-year-old is playing a role that he has never had to in his career coming off the bench. Howard is excelling in that role as he’s averaging 7.6 points and 7.7 rebounds on 72.3 percent shooting from the floor. That includes posting four double-doubles with 10 games recording double-digit rebounds, with six of those performances coming in January.
Howard has found a career rebirth with the Lakers that has seen him become an essential piece on a championship-caliber team.
Dwight Howard’s Slam Dunk Contest returned featured Kobe Bryant
Howard’s resurgent year with the Lakers has amped him up to venture into one activity that he hadn’t done in over a decade.
The former All-Star center has invited himself back into the contest, but this time around it would have involved the late great Kobe Bryant. Following Tuesday’s win over the San Antonio Spurs, Howard voiced that Bryant would have helped him in the event.
Howard hasn’t been in the contest in a decade, which his previous appearance came in 2009 when he was still a member of the Orlando Magic. It was the final of his three straight appearances in the event, which had seemed like it was the last time that he was going to be in it.
Howard has voiced that his bounce-back year with the Lakers has played a big part in him wanting to be in the slam dunk contest for the fourth time. He has stated that he is in the best shape of his entire career and is going to enforce an even stricter fitness routine over the next couple of weeks leading up to the event.
Dwight Howard’s chance to win Slam Dunk Contest
The rest of the field for the 2020 Slam Dunk Contest has yet to round out, but only one other participant has been announced with Miami Heat swingman Derrick Jones Jr. agreeing to join the event. Jones had taken part in it in 2017, where he finished runner-up to Glenn Robinson III.
Howard’s previous experience could help him this time around as he knows what to expect. He had shown some great creativity the last few times around that helped him win in 2008. It should be intriguing to see what tricks he has up his sleeve for the event.
Beyond that, it’s great to see another notable name taking part in the Slam Dunk Contest to help lift it back up.