I didn’t want to misquote Dwight Howard, so when he appeared on ESPN Fastbreak I made sure to copy the quote exactly. The ESPN crew asked him what he did after the Game 2 loss to help with preparations for Game 3 and here is what Howard had to say:
“There ain’t nothing I can do about it, Game 2 is over, we can’t replay Game 2. I did what I do everynight…Go home and play video games”
The first part of his quote is accurate, no need to dwell on the past, but the second part of his quote is a bit puzzling.
Everyone deals with stress a little differently.
Some athletes go to the club, some smoke a little of that “Michael Phelps,” some might get their “Tigerstyle” on with “Kat Stacks“, and I suppose some even play video games.
The truly great ones though, the ones who want to be known for championships, I doubt would be kicking back playing some Red Dead Redemption after getting beat twice on their home floor.
I am not trying to be hard on Howard, but he can’t be afforded the luxury to just go home and play video games — unless those video games include how to handle the defense the Celtics are throwing at him. Instead of playing video games maybe he could study some tape to see how the different Boston defenders (Perkins, Wallace, Davis) are playing him, so he can adjust accordingly.
The knock on Howard is that he isn’t a “serial killer,” that he is too nice and too soft. I don’t think you can change someone’s basketball DNA, so expecting Howard to become Moses Malone is a bit much.
What you want though, is if he is going to be the leader of your franchise, to have a better answer when things are not going well than “I went home and played video games.” I am not saying he should lie, but his urgency seems to be missing.
He isn’t a young player anymore; this is his 6th year in the league, it is time for him to turn the corner. The main problem I had with the Magic when they replaced Hedo Turkoglu with Vince Carter was that they had a team full of players who I called 3/4 ballers. Meaning they were great for three quarters, but choked up when it counted the most in the fourth quarter.
When they are blowing out teams by 20 you never noticed, but in tight games that is exactly what happens to them, they get tight.
Rashard Lewis looks like he rather be on a beach counting seashells than in this series. Vince Carter is on the Mount Rushmore of 3/4 players. Jameer Nelson is fearless, but limited. It says a lot about the Magic when JJ Redick is the player I would feel most comfortable with the ball in the final minutes (and even he made a boneheaded mistake in Game 2).
Dwight Howard needs to be the guy when the team is falling apart to pull them together and say we will not lose, but he seems to shy away from those moments and until he embraces them, he will have a lot of time each offseason to play video games.
For preparation for this article I watched Royce Reed (Dwight’s Baby Momma) dance: