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The Truth Behind Dwight Howard’s Magic Deal

When I first heard the news that Dwight Howard had decided to stay with my Orlando Magic I had a strange sensation. It reminded me of the time when at the age of 12, I took a dare to ride the tallest roller coaster at the Florida State Fair 21 straight times. Man was I glad to be off the topsy-turvy ride, but now that it was over it was well worth it.

The truth is that Dwight was the best player in the NBA draft in 2004 and 8 years later, in my humble but accurate opinion, he is still the one player you would want to build your team around. Of course, the basketball junkies know all the stats 6 time all-star, this years #1 vote-getter, 3-time defensive player of the year, and consistently one of the best in the league at blocking shots, muscling rebounds and field goal percentage. Lets not forget, a gold medal winner in the 2008 Olympics, 3 time division title winner, and 1 conference title holder.

I had the privilege of standing on the court at the old T. D. Waterhouse Arena with Dwight in his rookie year. After a Magic game we both spoke at a Faith & Family event, a I wrote down at the end of that night to pray for this young man that obviously was something special. Todays culture devours many of these special young individuals we have drugs and thugs, guns and sex, and the glitter of experiences and possessions that end up in emptiness and a selfish lifestyle. Dwight came to the NBA right out of high school and had to grow up quickly. Not a perfect guy, but who among us can pick up the first rock?

Dwight could have chosen any path, but we have watched him grow into an outstanding, straight-up guy. Known in the locker room and the Orlando community for his loyalty, discipline, and most of all, for his generosity. Pat Williams, former GM and VP of the Orlando Magic, said it best, Dwight is a young man on a mission, using his God-given gifts and talents in this community and around the world. He is a real asset to any team in any community.

The influence of Superman goes far beyond the dimension court. Once during an All-Star Slam-Dunk contest he slapped a sticker on the backboard while making an incredible dunk. All the press wanted to know what it said and noised it across the media: the sticker was imprinted with Philippians 4:13, I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. Dwight had no way of knowing but it opened the door for me to speak to hundreds of students in the Middle East. I walked onto a dirt court with a half-deflated basketball in a Palestine school in an atmosphere filled with tension and distrust.

Standing in the midst of about 40 young men, I soon found out they were all NBA fans and all had a favorite. One of the first questions they asked, Do you know Dwight Howard? That was all it took, the door was opened and communication established. From that conversation friendships were born with many of those students coming to Student Leadership University. I will be forever grateful for Dwights sticker.

This is a moment that can be duplicated around the world due to the popularity of basketball. I pray that Dwight and the NBA players will come to understand that they could become one of Americas greatest exports, and it why I have to tell the truth, Im glad that Superman stayed in Orlando.

(No offense to the dynamic Gov. Chris Christie there is Kryptonite in New Jersey)

By Dr. Jay Strack

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