Dwight Howard was only one of the surprising exclusions from the NBA’s 75th Anniversary Team announced on Thursday night but he probably has the right to feel most aggrieved.
The 35-year-old center, one of the best rebounders and defenders in the league’s history, did not make the final list of 75 players voted for by a blue-ribbon panel.
Votes came from former players, coaches, general managers, team and league executives, WNBA legends, sportswriters and broadcasters, with 11 current NBA stars making the cut.
Perhaps most surprising to be named was Damian Lillard who, despite nine undoubtedly impressive seasons in Portland with the Trail Blazers, has an overall CV that pales in comparison to Howard’s.
Anthony Davis, too, can arguably count himself fortunate to be included considering his accolades fall short of his Lakers team-mate’s.
Davis vs Howard comparison
|Anthony Davis||Dwight Howard|
|All-NBA First Team||4||5|
|All-NBA Second Team||0||1|
|All-NBA Third Team||0||3|
|All-Defense First Team||2||4|
|All-Defense Second Team||2||1|
As you can see, while Davis at 28 still has time in his career to surpass Howard, at the minute there isn’t much of an argument to be had in terms of who possesses the better résumé.
Dwight’s five rebounding titles and three consecutive Defensive Player of the Year awards really do set him apart here, without even mentioning the fact that he led the Orlando Magic to the NBA Finals in 2009 as their star player.
In contrast, Davis only made the playoffs twice with the New Orleans Pelicans and was eliminated in the first and second rounds.
There is potentially a case to be made for Davis’ inclusion, but certainly not at the expense of a player such as Howard who sits 12th all-time in rebounds, 15th in blocks and finished second in the 2011 MVP voting, ahead of LeBron James and behind Derrick Rose.
He wasn’t the only snub.
Pau Gasol, a two-time champion and six-time All-Star, was nowhere to be seen. Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili have four titles each (and a Finals MVP for Parker) yet also didn’t make the grade.
Cousins Vince Carter and Tracy McGrady have 15 All-Star appearances between them and were responsible for over 44,000 points. They should feel hard done by. T-Mac in particular given his seven All-NBA seasons and two scoring titles, including a 32-points-per-game season with the Magic.
And if you’d rather defensive players be rewarded then Dikembe Mutombo should warrant a place.
Only Ben Wallace has matched his four Defensive Player of the Year titles, but he was also an eight-time All-Star, six-time All-Defensive player and three-time All-NBA choice.
On the same note, try telling three-time champion, former Defensive Player of the Year and six-time All-Defense selection Draymond Green he isn’t worthy of inclusion.
The likes of Grant Hill, Penny Hardaway and Yao Ming only have injury-shortened careers preventing their names being added, too. Going further back Alex English, Adrian Dantley and Bernard King also have strong cases due to their importance to the league.
Of course, it’s difficult to find a place to fit all of these players among the 75, especially given some of the names you would have to take out.
That being said, even in a subjective list such as this – which actually ended up including 76 players due to a voting tie – it’s hard not to feel that Dwight Howard truly deserved his place and is a glaring omission.