A celebration of the NBA's most infuriating players, both past and present. Read other NBA Shit List entries here.
Dwight Howard's the guy who has one or two go-to jokes to entertain a roomful of strangers, and those strangers LOVE HIM. They think he's just hilarious. Such a character. This is why most casual sports fans have always known Dwight as the big, lovable goofball running around in a Superman cape doing a Shaq impersonation. "NOW THIS IS GOING TO BE FUN," read Dwight's Sports Illustrated cover the other week.
But then off in the corner of that room you have a handful of people who've seen this act for years—"TOO MUCH FUN," read Dwight's Sports Illustrated cover in 2009—and they are rolling their eyes and looking for the nearest sharp object. These people are NBA fans.
Look at Dwight after the Lakers lost their second straight game to open the season. From Kevin Ding at the OC Register:
"It'll all come together at the right time," Howard said late Wednesday night in the locker room after the Lakers got blown off the court in Portland.
Before that, Howard turned on some pleasant music so he could groove in front of his locker while he got dressed, his teammates all already long gone to the bus. Before that, he asked a Lakers staffer if hitting his free throws meant he could have his Halloween candy. Then he asked again. And again.
Before that, Howard mooned a TV cameraman whom he suspected of having his camera on while Howard had his underwear halfway down. Howard responded by sticking his rear end farther out, saying: "I've got a wide shot for you." And he giggled.
The season's less than a week old and Lakers writers are already tired of this shit.
The Shit List archives: Nick Young | Anthony Carter | Toney Douglas | Bill Cartwright | Dahntay Jones | DeShawn Stevenson | Michael Sweetney | Eddie House | Sasha Vujacic | Voshon Lenard | Eric Leckner | Andris Biedrins | Antawn Jamison
When he's not playing basketball or endorsing Ed Hardy or showing off his cologne collection or preening before the game in a two-sizes-too-small neoprene tank top, Dwight's off somewhere looking for a microphone or camera, the two weapons that transform him from a perfectly acceptable NBA superstar into a goddamn human ESPYs monologue. So ZANY it's impossible not to be enraged.
"Gangnam style has helped me strengthen my core and lower back," he said at Lakers camp in October. "I've got a great PT program, but this dance has taken me to the next level." Later, when asked whether he'd play in his first preseason game:
"Maybe. I had a dream that one day…" Howard said, trailing off as he struggled reciting Martin Luther King's famed "I Have a Dream" speech.
Dwight Howard interviews make me want to break things in my house.
Remember the most uncomfortable press conference of all time? The one in which a grinning Dwight Howard sees a bunch of reporters and cameras and wanders over seconds after Stan Van Gundy had confirmed that Dwight was trying to get him fired? And then Dwight stands there grinning and chuckling with reporters as he keeps on lying through the fillings in his teeth? Nothing in the history of the world has ever captured one person's awfulness better than that 90-second sequence captured Dwight Howard.
That was actually the only silver lining to the 18-month whirlwind of bullshit that preceded Dwight's landing in LA. For years we've been told he's this overgrown kid who just wants to have fun and make everyone smile, but the lesson of the past 18 months was clear: Dwight's not actually different than any other NBA superstar; he's just more of a fuckboy about everything.
When asked how he spent his time rehabbing after back surgery, Dwight told Sports Illustrated, "Building Legos, playing video games and watching cartoon movies." Of course.
We could juxtapose his childlike innocence and his very public piety with stories about his rumored five kids by five different mothers, or about the time he pulled his pants down to impress a porn star, but that's not even the point.
It's not that he's a fraud. It's that he is so thoroughly phony there's nothing real for him to betray. Calling him a fraud is like calling the Monday sitcom lineup on CBS a fraud. It's like calling Chris Berman, or a guess-your-weight carny, or a Hasbro action figure, or a coil of novelty rubber poop, a fraud. He is truest to his real self when he is being utterly fake.
As far as superstars go, one way or another, some sector of serious NBA fans will find a way to love you. Some people have come to worship Kobe for being a complete fucking sociopath, right? Some like LeBron, the Kanye of pro sports; Tim Duncan, the robot; Kevin Durant, the favorite son; Dirk, the goofy German; KG, the aging psychopath; Chris Paul, the future president; Rasheed Wallace, the greatest human being on the planet. Derrick Rose, the—something? He doesn't even speak or smile, and basketball fans love him for it.
Then there's Dwight:
He is your idiot drunk uncle's idea of funny. Did you hear he's changing his nickname from Superman to Iron Man this year? And he's practicing new hilarious impressions of his Lakers teammates? Did you see him explode through his tank top?
It's one thing to be full of shit; it's another thing to be criminally unfunny; and it's another thing altogether to be so desperate for attention that you trample teammates and children and small woodland creatures whenever a camera descends into view. When someone is all three of those things at once, that person is Dwight Howard, and that person will never be loved by anyone paying attention.
Andrew Sharp covers the NBA and NFL for SBNation.com. You can follow him on Twitter at @andrewsharp and read more over here.