After over a decade, former Dunk Contest winner Dwight Howard is returning to the event next month, making his fourth appearance in the annual showcase
This has been a season of rejuvenation for Dwight Howard. After a number of years bouncing around the league with no team particularly eager to have or hold on to him, Howard has found a home and a productive role coming off the bench for the Los Angeles Lakers. Though his raw numbers are easily the least impressive of his 16-year career, this is still arguably the most useful he has been in nearly a decade.
Now, Dwight Howard is hoping to turn back the clock a little more by participating in the 2020 Slam Dunk Contest. Howard has previously been in the Dunk Contest three times, in 2007, 2008, and 2009, winning it in 2008.
In those contests, Howard was able to showcase himself as a young, engaging, up and coming star full of bounce and athleticism. His Sticker Dunk from 2007 and Superman Dunk the following year were two of the more memorable dunks from those respective years, though it’s unclear how much he’ll be able to offer this year as a 34-year-old whose athletic prime has long since passed. Perhaps he hopes that, as the Dunk Contest helped the public fall in love with him over a decade ago, it can do so again.
The Dunk Contest is usually a showcase for young players who have yet to establish themselves in the league. While many future All-Stars have participated in the event, it’s rare for a present or past star to partake. In fact, Howard has more NBA seasons under his belt than all of last year’s dunkers combined who were all in either their first or second season in the Association.
Maybe the NBA should just lean all the way into the nostalgia factor and bring back three-time winner Nate Robinson even though he hasn’t appeared in an NBA game since 2015. They should see if the 42 year-old Vince Carter, who turned in perhaps the greatest Dunk Contest performance ever in 2000, is interested and if Andre Iguodala, who arguably got robbed in 2006 would like to avenge himself.
Whether he’s actually able to do anything interesting at the Dunk Contest next month, Dwight Howard participating at all certainly makes the event more inherently interesting than it would have been otherwise.