NEW YORK—The 2004 NBA Draft’s number one pick, Dwight Howard, is younger than I am. In his brief interactions with the NBA, the Southwest Atlanta Christian High School grad has already mused about superimposing a crucifix on the NBA logo, pleaded for a future with superstar Tracy McGrady, and confidently rebuked those critics who question his lack of edge and toughness.
Of course, back in reality, the logo isn’t going to be changed, Orlando Magic general manager John Weisbrod ’91 has since traded away McGrady for various Houston Rockets, and Howard, for what it’s worth by way of “toughness,” still wears braces.
Not the best of league baptisms for the next Kevin Garnett—or, maybe, Kwame Brown.
But still, when Dwight Howard’s name was called out by NBA Commissioner David Stern, it was, understandably, a veritable Howard-fest. And the loudest voice came not from the stage, or from the so-called Green Room, or even from his mother or father.
It came from Row H.
MY COUSIN DWIGHT
Dwight Howard’s cousin turned to me and smiled.
Well, he turned to all of us, really—me and my three buddies from high school in Row J, Section 300, along with that weird guy on my right who came by himself—but he looked directly at me, I felt, and wouldn’t stop baring his teeth, grinning like a million bucks. I’m all for being friendly—especially with the kin of potential NBA royalty—but what the hell was wrong with this guy?
“We’ll see ya’ll on MTV Cribs,” he joked.
And then, all of a sudden, it hit me.
“His family probably has a million dollars now,” I realized, repeating the insight aloud to my friends, in childlike awe. “I guess that’s what you do when you win the lottery.” Literally.
I turned my eyes to the “D. HOWARD” after the white number one on the big draft board in Madison Square Garden, and then, slowly, back to the aforementioned Howard in front of me. Commissioner David Stern, meanwhile, was announcing that Rafael Araujo had been somehow selected by the Toronto Raptors. And this Howard was, predictably, still smiling.
“Christ,” my friends agreed. “Christ.”
ALL IN THE FAMILY