Picture Dwight Howard Gets Baptized
Wade got Lebron and Bosh this offseason, but Howard got Jesus.
In the latest move in a wave of conference realignment, league sources are reporting that the NBA’s Boston Celtics, Cleveland Cavaliers, and Orlando Magic are poised to accept invitations to join the Western Conference. The same sources cite increased exposure, greater revenues, and a higher level of play as the primary reasons for the move.
“This is a big day for us,” said Celtics coach Doc Rivers. “The Eastern Conference treated us well for decades, but we want to be where the best teams are. Plus, it’s hard to get comfortable in a conference where your playoffs air on TNT. You’re always worried aLaw & Orderrerun is going to preempt one of your games.”
“I don't think this was an easy decision for this franchise,” said Magic center Dwight Howard. “I knew that unless I died or lost a leg I’d be starting the All-Star Game for the East for the next 12 years. I grew up dreaming of playing in the real NBA, though, against the best players in the world. And now I finally have a chance to do it. It's about legacy. I can only prove myself in the Western Conference.”
Cavaliers officials are hopeful that the move will help the team retain free agent superstar LeBron James. “Giant contracts are nice and all,” said one team official, bBut now we can promise LeBron that those repeated midseason trips to Detroit and Indianapolis are a thing of the past. That’s huge.”
Commissioner David Stern who says he is now Western Conference Commissioner David Stern says he believes the creation of a mega-conference will improve the financial picture of the NBA.
"Honestly, I have no idea what will happen to what's left of the Eastern Conference," he says. "And I really don’t care. Maybe those teams can join the Big East or something. Their names and level of play are already sort of similar.”
Meanwhile, the Eastern Conference is left scrambling to populate its ranks. The conference has considered adding the University of Kentucky from the NBA, but there are concerns about whether coach John Calipari could get his squad’s payroll under the NBA’s $57.7 million salary cap and still put a competitive team on the court.
“At this point, we’ll take any team with five players. They don’t even have to be healthy or particularly good at basketball,” said New York Knicks coach Mike D’Antoni. “If anyone has a connection with the NBDL’s Fort Wayne Mad Ants, please have them call us.”
Orlando Magic guard Vince Carter told head coach Stan Van Gundy that he plans to leave his warmups on for Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Finals.
"I don't want to get chilly," he said. "And warmups are just so comfortable. They're almost like pajamas. Keeping them on will really help me relax out there. That's what I need."
Van Gundy has told Carter that he may not keep his warmups on for the game. But the coach doubts it will matter.
"Hey, if Vince or any of my players listened to anything I told them to do or not do, I'd be a happy man," said Van Gundy. "But I think this series has shown I don't really have a purpose here."
In a desperate attempt to turn the series around, Van Gundy is even trying some reverse psychology on his team, stressing four keys to Game 4: Don't Rebound, Don't Defend, Don't Take Good Shots, Don't Play With Energy.
"I can definitely do all those," Carter said. "And so I think coach needs to meet my halfway. That's why I'm wearing my warm-ups."
The former North Carolina, Raptors and Nets star dismissed those who might say wearing warmups is another sign that Carter is soft or lazy.
"Ridiculous," he said. "And I'll prove it. If I get a breakaway, I have this awesome dunk where I unbutton my pants in the air and then do a tomahawk. It's awesome."
Carter said that he will then put his warmup pants back on "of course, so I don't get a brush burn."
Dwight Howard of the Orlando Magic won his second straight NBA defensive player of the year award today, but refused to accept it at a scheduled press conference. "Nah. No thank you," said Howard. "And who are you to give me an award? You don't know me."
The All-Star center said that he appreciated the defensive honor, but reiterated that he wanted nothing to do with it.
"People try to give me stuff all the time, but you have to question their intentions," said Howard. "So I take this award and then what? What are they going to ask for in return? You don't know. You don't. Somebody in my position, I have to look out for me. I have to protect me."
Teammates say that Howard was even more defensive this year than he was during the 2008-2009 season.
"He snaps at everything now," said guard J.J. Redick. "You tell him: 'Hey, man, great shot.' And he just scowls at you. He always feels like we are attacking him, even with a legitimate compliment. Like we were surprised he made a shot or something."
Those who knew Howard in high school say he wasn't always so defensive.
"Dwight was always a very warm, fun kid to be around," said his high school coach, Bill Jacobs. "Yet a ferocious defender."
Howard bristled at the comments from his former coach.
"I notice he didn't compliment my offense," said Howard. "See? This is the kind of thing I'm talking about. That's why I can't ever let my guard down."