Every star has a moment. A play, a game, just something that we acknowledge as the moment they became a star. For Dwight Howard that moment came against the San Antonio Spurs.
There were 0.8 seconds left on the clock. Just long enough to get off a quick shot or maybe a tip play if that opened up. The Magic opted to go with the latter, but what Brian Hill drew up for Orlando was not just a tip play. It was something that only Howard would be able to do. A play that only someone with his athleticism and coordination would be able to pull it off. It was the moment when Dwight Howard became a star for the Magic.
Howard didn’t just go up and tip the ball in for the win. No, he took the ball and dunked it. Something that big men just didn’t do. Especially back in 2007. The big man was supposed to be a giant ball that powered their way to the rim, or protected the paint with size and strength. Howard, though, was quick, athletic, and leaped around. Incredibly athletic big men dominate the NBA now, but when Howard was doing it he was a specimen, the type of which hadn’t been seen since the last time the Magic selected a center first overall.
He showcased that athleticism in the 2008 NBA Dunk contest. Everyone remembers the Superman dunk — him leaping and throwing the ball into the rim became his image — but that was arguably not even his best dunk of the night. Between the opening windmill and the tap off the glass he just continued to defy expectations over and over again that night for what a big man in the dunk contest was supposed to look like.