When the name Dwight Howard comes up, people often think of words or phrases such as a**hole, locker room cancer, selfish, and not clutch. But Howard’s latest incident where he was caught using stickum on his hands during a game against the Atlanta Hawks on Saturday has many people now labeling him as a “cheater.”
During the first quarter, Howard was assessed a warning by referees after Atlanta’s Paul Millsap complained about the ball being sticky before shooting free throws. Howard had just made a layup seconds before Millsap’s free throw attempts. The league decided on Monday not to suspend or fine Howard for the incident.
When speaking to the reporters on Monday, Howard claimed that he felt the incident had been blown out of proportion and that he does not see himself as a cheater.
“I just think that it’s getting overblown, like I’m doing something crazy. But again, I’ve never been a cheater, never been the type of player that has to do something illegal to win. It’s upsetting, but I can’t control it now.”
Howard then stated that he is not the only player in the league who uses a spray or a powder on his hands during games and never felt that it was something that was against the rules.
“I’ve been using the spray for the last five years. I never hid the spray. I never did anything to try to hide what I was doing. It was just something to make my hands dry.”
Is Dwight Howard using stickum spray on his hands the biggest crime to ever be committed in the NBA? Absolutely not (a la Tim Donaghy). Players in every league do things that they know are probably against the rules but will help them gain a little bit of an edge or improve their game. It would be impractical to crucify Howard just because of one moment where he was caught using a sticky substance on his hand, so no, do not label Dwight Howard as a cheater.
However, while Howard’s stickum incident may not call for him to be labeled as a cheater, the incident certainly shines a bit of light on the type of person he is. Everywhere Dwight Howard has gone (Orlando, Los Angeles, Houston), he has been an annoyance and a distraction to both his teammates, coaches and members of the front office. Whether it was his feud with then-Orlando Magic head coach, Stan Van Gundy, not being on the same page with Kobe Bryant and then ditching LA for Houston, and again not clicking with head coach Kevin McHale in Houston, Howard has done just about everything to make the average NBA fan dislike him and not take him seriously.
It really is a shame that Dwight Howard’s words and actions speak more for him than his performance on the court. Somebody with his stature (6’11,” 265 pounds) should be able to dominate this league like he did during his time in Orlando, and not have to worry about people thinking negatively of him due to dumb things he says off the court or getting in feuds with coaches and teammates. LA was obviously a complete disaster for Howard, and while he has had moments of shine in Houston, he has been plagued with injuries and the reputation of not being able to get it done when it counts. This stickum incident likely will not do anything to hurt Dwight Howard’s already tainted reputation, but it certainly does not do anything to help him either.
As far as Howard being upset about being labeled as a cheater goes, Dwight should just take it and go silent. Dwight Howard is a multi-million athlete and he got caught using stickum on his hands, so, while he shouldn’t be labeled as a cheater, that qualifies as a professional athlete attempting to gain a competitive advantage in the court of public opinion. We’ve seen a similar case in recent months of a player allegedly “trying to gain a competitive advantage” with Tom Brady’s “Deflategate” saga. Granted, the NBA is not dishing out $5 million dollars to investigate and handle the matter like complete imbeciles like the NFL did, and Tom Brady has won four championships compared to Dwight Howard’s goose egg, but, Howard should just do what Brady did during Deflategate and that is to just stay quiet and let things blow over (it’s sad because Deflategate has yet to completely blow over).
Dwight Howard is not good enough to be labeled as a cheater or the villain of the NBA as he has never won anything. If this were LeBron James, Steph Curry, or even Kobe Bryant then people would be going crazy. But it’s Dwight Howard, and until he gets caught using stickum during his fourth trip to the NBA Finals, let’s just drop this and leave the guy alone. He really is not worth the time or stress.