Cohen: Memorable Night for Howard & Rest of NBA's Elite

By Josh Cohen
February 20, 2011

LOS ANGELES -- For those that normally don’t get the opportunity to watch Dwight Howard on a regular basis, the 2011 All-Star Game was another inimitable showcase for NBA enthusiasts across the world.

While it’s customary for the participants of All-Star Games to dazzle fans with a variety of spectacular acts and creative plays, Howard has a tendency to find a way to stand out amongst the other elite competitors in the NBA.

Not just because of stature and size, but also because of his innate talent and freakish athleticism to inspire a crowd with just about anything he attempts to do on the court.

Just like he has done this entire season with the Orlando Magic, D12 enjoyed the opportunity to showcase these abilities in front of a national audience. Although the East had no answer for MVP Kobe Bryant, who erupted for 37 points and 14 rebounds, Howard shared the spotlight with the rest of the NBA’s elite to share in a memorable night.

Howard, in spite of not getting too many shot attempts, flabbergasted those in attendance at STAPLES Center with a couple of thunderous slam-dunks, including a breathtaking two-handed flush in the first quarter off an alley-oop pass from Amar’e Stoudemire.

The five-time All-Star even teamed up with familiar foes such as the Miami Heat’s LeBron James, who notched a triple-double, and Dwyane Wade to accomplish some of the game’s most electrifying plays.

Dwight finished with five points, seven rebounds and one assist. Big men generally do not post big stats in All-Star Games largely because the ball is mostly in the hands of the wing players.

Perhaps the most bizarre stretch of action was when Howard was on the floor alongside four members of the detested Boston Celtics in the first quarter, including Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen and Rajon Rondo.

The most hilarious moment from the night had to be right before tip-off when James was joined by the rest of the East’s starting lineup, Howard, Stoudemire, Wade and Derrick Rose, in doing the notorious pregame powder toss.

Josh Cohen
While the outcome may not have much significance, it’s very apparent that all of the competitors from both conferences want to prove they belong in the small, but privileged, class of NBA elite.

Especially with the MVP race so competitive this season, it’s games like this that can help fans fall in love with certain players.

Every time Howard touched the ball – either off a rebound, in the open floor or when he was underneath the basket ready to slam one home – fans in Los Angeles definitely seemed to recognize what he is capable of.

One fan in particular – a major celebrity in his own right – also seemed to enjoy watching Howard up close. Pop music sensation Justin Bieber, who was sitting along the sideline, gave D12 a high-five during the action.

It was definitely an eventful few days for the franchise center. After arriving on Thursday, Howard made several grand appearances, including being a special guest on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno.

In addition, Superman helped build a playground as part of the NBA in the Community initiative at All-Star Weekend.

Now, it is imperative for Howard to get some rest before the Magic return to action on Wednesday.