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Is Dwight Howard kinda, sorta back?

Published by Yoshi on 8th November - 22:00 (CET)
I have to admit, folks, I used to have a crush on Dwight Howard. Who can blame me? That smile, that insane game-winning alley-oop, that ridiculously underrated sticker dunk, and bringing a team of role players all the way to the Finals in 2009. He sure charmed this fan right here like one of his eight plus baby mamas.

When people started turning on Dwight as his relationship with coach Stan Van Gundy and the Orlando Magic deteriorated in a very weird and public way, I stood by my charming giant. "You never know what's being said behind closed doors", I used to say when people blamed Dwight, "maybe he's being mistreated". Nobody was happier than your's truly when the news broke about D12 going to the Lakers to give Steve Nash the pick-n-roll partner he deserved and to bring redemption to his name. Granted, that douche Kobe was going to be there to ruin 65% of offensive possessions, but you can't have it all, can you?

Things in LA didn't quite turn out as expected though, but as many lovestruck people do, I kept making excuses. There was the quite serious recovery from back surgery, the questionable choice of Mike D'Antoni for head coach, and of course the paring of Dwight, someone who flourishes in a team-friendly vibe, with Kobe, someone who doesn't even acknowledge new players joining the team. Who could perform under these conditions, right? It's not Howard's fault, you guys!

Ok, forget about the Los Angeles experiment and let's get things right in Houston, baby! While James Harden hardly seems like the teammate of the century, there is no denying his immense offensive talent. Pairing him up with a fun-loving defensive beast might just bring out the best of both worlds and set the Rockets up to be the dynasty they were supposed to be with T-Mac and Yao. While the Rockets were performing fairly well, making it to the WCF in 2015, Howard's three years in Houston were far from the redemption his baby mamas and I were expecting. Injuries kept him out for a total of 64 regular season games, his role and production were being reduced year by year, and his relationship with Harden was becoming increasingly poisonous, to the point where Harden was seemingly trying to push Howard out of the rotation. At this point, my feelings for Dwizzy were starting to cool off a bit. While there was still a voice inside me saying "it's not Dwight's fault, James Harden is a total dick" there was this distinct feeling that I had put way more into our relationship than he had in the past years. How long can you keep defending someone when they let you down time and time again, you know?

Eventually I moved on and forgot about my feelings for Dwight. When he signed with his hometown Atlanta Hawks in the '16 offseason, I barely noticed. He was doing his thing, I was doing mine (shitting on Lebron haters) and that was that. But the other day I caught a Hawks game and something happened inside me. As D8 put up 20 points, 14 boards and a couple of blocks on his former team while actually smiling on the court again, there was a spark of hope that went off inside me. I glanced at his averages for the first six games of the season; 17 PPG, 12.3 RPB and 2.0 BPG in only 28 MPG. Wow, not far off from the 22.9/14.1/2.4 he required 37.6 MPG to average when he finished second in the MVP voting in 2011. The Hawks are a healthy 4-2 in these six games and Dwight has been an integral part of the success, despite being under minute restrictions. Can this be more than a fluke?

Granted, six games is a tiny sample size, but you can't deny that this is a great sign after numerous years of declination. I've been hurt multiple times before, so I don't want to hope for too much, but jeez Louise this might finally be the fresh start Dwight and I have been longing for for so long!

Go get 'em, baby!

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