NBA standout Dwight Howard was the #1 overall pick in the 2004 NBA draft, becoming only the third prep player in history to be the top pick. Also the winner of the 2004 Naismith Award, signifying the nation’s top high school player, Howard talks about the role his faith plays on and off the court and challenges young people to be bold with theirs.
Howard led the NBA in rebounding from 2007 to 2010, and again from 2012 to 2013. Howard’s rebounding is in part facilitated by his extraordinary athleticism; his running vertical leap was tested at 39.5 inches in 2011, rare for a player of his size (6’11”). He demonstrated this skill in the 2007 Slam Dunk Contest, where he completed an alley oop dunk from teammate Jameer Nelson while slapping a sticker onto the backboard at 12 ft 6 in (3.81 m) high. The sticker showed an image of his own smiling face with a handwritten “All things through Christ Phil: 4:13,” a paraphrase of Philippians 4:13. Howard’s leaping reach of 12 ft 6 in (3.81 m) is the highest documented in NBA history, 1 inch (2.5 cm) higher than Shaquille O’Neal’s previous record of 12 ft 5 in (3.78 m). As of April 2013, Howard’s career average of 12.9 rebounds per game (in the regular season) ranked 12th in NBA history.
Howard’s abilities and powerful physique have drawn attention from fellow NBA All-Stars. Tim Duncan once remarked in 2007: “[Howard] is so developed… He has so much promise and I am glad that I will be out of the league when he is peaking.” Kevin Garnett echoed those sentiments: “[Howard] is a freak of nature, man… I was nowhere near that physically talented. I wasn’t that gifted, as far as body and physical presence.” Subsequent to a game in the 2009 NBA Playoffs, Philadelphia 76ers swingman Andre Iguodala said: “It’s like he can guard two guys at once. He can guard his guy and the guy coming off the pick-and-roll, which is almost impossible to do… If he gets any more athletic or jumps any higher, they’re going to have to change the rules.” As early as December 2007, ESPN writer David Thorpe declared Howard to be the most dominant center in the NBA.
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