Superman, Looking For Work: On Dwight Howard’s 2016 Free Agency

For VICE Sports, I wrote about rehoming Dwight Howard, who has plenty of basketball left.

I couldn’t fit this anywhere in the article, but Dwight has my favorite dunk contest dunk of the last ten years. I like it because it’s relatively obscure, but also because it’s one of the most original prop-free dunks — with no use of the free throw line and no through the legs or behind the back tricks — and one that effortlessly deployed his unique, staggering athletic abilities. I also like it because I feel choosing a Dwight Howard dunk as my favorite is important because Dwight Howard was made for the dunk contest.

Pleasing everyone is hard enough when being larger than life makes you physically unrelatable; it’s even harder when your entire appeal comes from your immense destructive power and a joke index from Captain Underpants. The only forum where both of those play is the slam dunk contest, and Howard can’t do those anymore. It’s taken him this long to outgrow it, and there’s the sense he’s still working on it.

Railing against a tradition of dunk contest remixes, callbacks, and tributes, this Howard dunk was ahistorical. It resembled nothing that came before it, and has never been attempted (at least in a contest) since. He nailed it on his first attempt; it was his 3rd dunk out of 4.

 

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