Dwight Howard went unsigned in NBA free agency over the summer, but the soon-to-be 37-year-old center wasn’t ready to retire. Earlier this month, Howard agreed to a deal with the Taoyuan Leopards of the T1 League in Taiwan. While the league typically has a maximum salary of $20K per month for foreign players, they reportedly agreed to pay Howard more than $1 million on the season due to the publicity he’d bring.
Howard lived up to his end of the bargain in his debut with joyous all-around performance that had the future Hall of Fame inductee catching alley-oops, ripping three-pointers, initiating the offense off the dribble, and swatting shots in front of a roaring crowd and fawning announcers. Howard finished with an absurd line: 38 points, 25 rebounds, and nine assists. He took 32 shots on the night, including 10 three-pointers, and even went 8-of-12 from the foul line for a notoriously bad free throw shooter. The highlights quickly amassed millions of views on social media. Watch them here:
You know, the Lakers could really use a stretch five right now. Maybe they shouldn’t have let Howard walk after he played 60 games with the franchise last season.
Howard was living it up every second he was on the court. He was typically either a pick-and-roll dive man or a post scorer in the NBA, but in the T1 League Howard often looked like a point-center. He was driving the ball to the basket from the perimeter and trying to dunk everything around the rim. There were even a few moments where he looked like prime Dwight, who player who nearly won MVP back in 2011.
Best of all, the Leopards won 120–115 in OT with Howard playing a starring role.
Howard’s days as one of the best players in the NBA are long gone, but for a night he felt like a superstar once again. Credit Howard for putting on a show and giving the fans what they wanted. He was basking in the crowd’s love and giving it right back to them. If this is what every Howard game is going to be like, the Leopards might just become must-see TV.