Dwight Howard played coy for weeks about whether he planned to participate in the dunk contests at the NBA’s All-Star game, despite a report that he was planning to do it. He insisted he hadn’t decided.
The truth was, Howard had planned to announce it at an appearance in New York this week. And the bigger truth was that he’d been plotting his dunks for months. Howard already knows what dunks he plans to use.
“Now that I’m competing against some way younger guys, I have to find a way to really make the dunk contest fun for the fans, and really entertaining,” Howard said. “So came up some pretty good ideas, so things are gonna be a lot of fun.”
Howard wasn’t invited by the league, it happened the other way around. Howard said he reached out to the league to see if they’d be willing to include him.
“I just felt like I’m in the best shape I’ve been in my whole career,” Howard said. “So why not go out there and give it, give it 135%, and see what happens.”
Howard is looking forward to the atmosphere of the dunk contest, which will be held Feb. 15 in Chicago.
“I’m very thankful, after playing 16 years in the league and having played in the dunk contest a decade ago, I’ve been able to jump and move and have my health,” Howard said. “So I’m very thankful and grateful that I’m healthy enough to compete in the contest. It’s all about having fun and enjoying this moment. And it’s fun for the fans. If I’m able to do the things that I plan to do in the dunk contest, I think it’d be really great for the fans, just show them my appreciation for this league and the city of L.A., and the NBA fan base.”
It has typically been an event that favors younger players with springier legs. Hamidou Diallo, who was 20 at the time, won last year’s dunk contest.
Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell won it at 21 two years ago.
Howard won the dunk contest in 2008 and also participated in 2007 and 2009. He wore a Superman cape during one of his dunks in 2008.
Will he wear the cape again this year? Howard smiled.
“Superman cape?” he said. “I can’t give everything away.”
He was willing to offer one tidbit. Howard’s teammate, Anthony Davis, has offered his services to help with a dunk, but Howard has another Lakers great in mind.
“I’m trying to get Kobe,” Howard said. “So if I can get all the Laker fans to lobby to get Kobe to help me in the dunk contest, that’d be really good. That’d be awesome.”