NBA Finals: Kids Stuff?
When it comes to the NBA, it’s safe to say there is a new kid in town.
After a long NBA season, the Championship Final comes down to a battle between young gun Dwight Howard of the Orlando Magic and NBA veteran Kobe Bryant of the Los Angeles Lakers.
When Kobe entered the [kwlink6621]NBA[/kwlink] he was just 18 years old and part of the growing number of players coming straight out of high school. Twelve years and three NBA Championships later and Bryant is an NBA veteran, widely expected to lead his Lakers to the title. To do that he’ll have to get past the Magic and their 23-year-old phenomenon Howard, who himself entered the NBA straight out of high school just four years ago.
Even though he is one of the best players in this NBA Final, Howard is one of the most underrated players in the NBA. Howard might just be the best NBA big man since Moses Malone and he wasn’t even in the conversation as a candidate for this year’s NBA MVP honors.
Malone averaged 20.6 points and 12.2 rebounds per game in his 19-year Hall-of-Fame NBA career. He also won an NBA Championship with the Philadelphia 76ers in 1983 and is considered one of the best players in NBA history. Howard averaged 20.6 points, 13.8 rebounds and 2.9 blocks per game this season in Orlando and won Defensive Player of the year honors. He is also starting to look like he might be able to eventually equal Malone’s accomplishment of averaging more than 20 points and 15 rebounds for a full NBA season. In the NBA playoffs Howard’s pushed his totals to a whopping 21.7 points and 15.4 rebounds per game.
"[Howard's] a unique kind of player," Los Angeles Laker Pau Gasol told the Los Angeles Times. "I don't think there have been many players like him because of his physical gifts and attributes."
Perhaps the best thing about Howard, however, is the fact that he really is a big kid that loves to have fun on and off the basketball court. In fact, he’s received plenty of criticism for being too silly and immature when he plays, but according to Howard that criticism isn’t going to change his attitude.
"I'm always going to be that silly person," Howard told the San Francisco Chronicle. "Basketball brings too much joy to me and everybody who watches me. So there's no need to be out there trying to look mean and tough. Even if I tried to look mean and tough, everybody in here would laugh and say, 'That's not him.' So it doesn't work."
He won’t look so silly if he gets that NBA Championship ring.