Dwight David Howard (born December 12, 1985 in Atlanta, Georgia) is a basketball power forward for the Orlando Magic of the NBA. Nicknamed "The Man Child," he is a rising young talent in the NBA and well known for his proficiency in rebounding.
Howard played at Southwest Atlanta Christian Academy, a private academy with one of the best high school basketball programs. He was awarded a number of accolades in high school, including 2003-04 Gatorade National Boys Basketball Player of the Year. Foregoing college, Howard opted into the 2004 NBA Draft and the Orlando Magic selected him first overall. In his first season, Howard had a season high of 29 points on March 16 against the Los Angeles Clippers. He finished the season with an average of 12 points a game and 10 rebounds per game, becoming one of only a few players (and the youngest ever) in the NBA to average a double-double. He is the youngest player in the NBA to average 10 rebounds. In addition, Howard grabbed 20 rebounds in three games, becoming the youngest NBA player ever to record at least 20 rebounds. He became the only player to start every game after making the leap from prep to pro.
Howard was selected to play in the 2005 NBA Got Milk? Rookie Challenge, and was also unanimously selected to the All-NBA Rookie First Team. Howard's impressive numbers have spurred discussions amongst ESPN stat room analysts Jory Amar and Ryan Stall with regards to Howard being compared to Hakeem Olajuwon with his inside presence. Howard's rookie season was a learning experience for him, which is why his father chose a mentor, his cousin, J.A. Shoychet, to live with him and act as a role model while he is off the court. Howard was also mentored on the court as a rookie by Orlando assistant coach (and long-time NBA center) Clifford Ray. Howard is predicted to grow as a student of the game and mature as one of the league's biggest men who dominate the paint.
Howard's second season started phenominally as well. On November 15, 2005, in a home game at the TD Waterhouse Centre in Orlando, Florida against the Charlotte Bobcats, Howard scored 21 points and 20 rebounds, becoming the youngest player ever to score 20 or more points and 20 or more rebounds. Today, Howard remains one of the league's most popular and most recognized young stars. Already a rebounding tour de force, Dwight Howard is expected to become an offensive stalwart very soon. Raptors play-by-play announcer Chuck Swirsky has added to this popularity by frequently chanting the phrase "Dwight Howard is a man!".
On April 15, 2006, in a game against the Philadelphia 76ers, Howard pulled down a career high 26 rebounds to go with 28 points.
Howard's rebounding can be attributed to his athleticism and his tenacity around the rim. For the 2005-2006 season, he averaged 12.5 rebounds per game, ranking him second in the NBA in rebounds per game and first in total rebounds. He is also third in double-doubles in the 2005-06 season.
On March 27, 2006 the Orlando Magic picked up a team option in Dwight's contract for the 2007-2008 season along with teammate Jameer Nelson.
Howard is a devout Christian and drew some attention when he talked about a dream he had, in which the Christian cross was added to the NBA logo. His Christianity caused some critics to question his toughness in the NBA, saying he would not be willing to 'bang' in the post. Since then, many have praised Howard, comparing him favorably to Kevin Garnett and Moses Malone.
Unlike some players having attended private schools, where questions or rumors have arisen regarding "recruiting", Howard was involved in the Southwest Christian program since preschool years.
Howard appeared as a special guest on an episode of the ABC series Extreme Makeover: Home Edition that aired April 2, 2006, in which Ty Pennington and his team built a new home and ministry offices for Sadie Holmes, who operates a social services ministry in the Orlando area.
- NBA All-Rookie First Team: 2005
- NBA regular-season leader, total rebounds: 2006 (1,022)
- Youngest player in NBA history to grab at least 20 rebounds in one game (20, December 1, 2004 vs. Toronto Raptors) 
- Youngest player in NBA history to average a double-double in points (12.0) and rebounds (10.0) for a season (2004-05) 
- Youngest player in NBA history to average at least 10 rebounds (10.0) for a season (2004-05) 
- First player in NBA history directly out of high school to start all 82 games during his rookie season (2004-05) 
- Youngest player in NBA history (19 years, 342 days) with at least 20 points and 20 rebounds in one game (21 points and 20 rebounds, November 15, 2005 vs. Charlotte Bobcats) 
- Career-high 26 rebounds vs Philadelphia 76ers on April 15, 2006 
- Dwight Howard
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