Former slam dunk champ Dwight Howard, aka Superman, entered the 2022 NBA season on the free agent list. Throughout training camps and three weeks into the season, nobody has come knocking at Howard’s door until now. And you’ll never guess what team is giving Howard a chance to continue his career — probably because you’ve never heard of them.
The three-time NBA Defensive Player of the Year’s basketball journey has taken him to Taiwan to play for the Taoyuan Leopards of Taiwan’s T1 League, Howard announced on Monday via Instagram.
“Taiwan, I’ve got some amazing news for you guys. Superman is in the building,” Howard exclaimed, barely able to contain his excitement.
“I have always loved the energy I felt visiting Taiwan as you can see, I still have posters hanging up on my walls from my first 2 times visiting! I’m ready to enjoy life by playing the sport I love in front of a bunch of people that Love me & for my people in Taiwan, have your posters ready to welcome yours truly,” said the 2020 NBA champion.
Professional sports are funny in how they sometimes work because they can be very similar to high school. If you’re not with the “in” crowd, you’re merely cast off and viewed as an outsider. For a large part of his career, that’s been, Howard. Look at his accolades and judge for yourself:
- Eight-time All-NBA
- Eight-time All-Star
- Five-time Rebound champion
- Three-time Defensive POY
- NBA Champion (2020)
- Slam Dunk Champion (2008)
- 2004-05 All-Rookie Team
But when it came time to announce the NBA’s 75th-anniversary team last year, Howard was nowhere to be found. If Anthony Davis made that list, Howard should’ve been a lock. Davis was a great player at one point, but his list of accomplishments can’t touch what Howard’s achieved in the Association. In fact, Howard and Davis got into a scuffle on the Lakers’ sideline last season right around the time of the 75th-anniversary team’s unveiling.
Howard talks about playing the sport he loves in front of people that love him. It’s never felt like the NBA truly loved him for whatever reason. He got roped into a nonsensical feud with NBA legend Shaquille O’Neal over a nickname neither owns rights to. Shaq was a great player but doesn’t own the moniker and, quite frankly, needs to get over himself. O’Neal loves to brag about earning multiple college degrees. Well, how about using some of that intellect to check yourself and RELAX?
With this latest revelation, it is amazing to see just how little the NBA thinks of Howard. Instead of a team signing Howard to come off the bench to play 15 minutes a night, he’s forced to go play overseas. Howard says he loves the people of Taiwan and their energy, but if given the opportunity, he probably would’ve jumped at playing for the veteran’s minimum in the NBA this year.
If Deandre Jordan still picks up a paycheck in the NBA, Howard should be in line to do the same. Jordan is playing 13 minutes a game in Denver, averaging six rebounds and half a blocked shot per game. Howard did the same thing for the Lakers last season in 16 minutes while averaging more points than Jordan.
In no phase of Deandre Jordan’s career has he ever been a better basketball player than Dwight Howard. Not while in the NBA. But like anything else in life, when you buddy up to the right people, you can get the benefit of the doubt over outsiders. When Kevin Durant got to Brooklyn, he had to have Jordan, and we saw how that worked out. Far past his prime, DJ continues to get calls while Howard is out of the league.
Sure, Howard wasn’t always the easiest to get along with — ask Stan Van Gundy. And his attitude rubbed some the wrong way — Kobe Bryant wasn’t a fan either — but for him to be shunned in this way is despicable. Howard even dealt with rumors about his sexuality which he put to rest a few years ago. Whether those rumors played a part in his treatment around the league over the years is uncertain, but the fact remains that Howard was one of the most outstanding big men of his era.
With Howard now committing to play in Taiwan, that takes him off the NBA radar for a while. But if he plays well enough in the T1 league, that could open the door for Howard to return and finish his NBA career on his terms.