The Fall Of Superman: Dwight Howard's Impossible Quest For Redemption

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The Return Of Superman? : Dwight Howard's Ultimate Quest For Redemption

"I beleive in you."

Those were the first words Michael Jordan spoke to a very disgruntled Dwight Howard just a short time after his trade from Atlanta. And in response, Dwight went right back to where he was before the phone call: the gym.

The gym, that's where Dwight has been for a big chunk of his life. But even with that being true, his reputation is not one filled with words that involve work or discipline. Rather, he's known as a troublemaker, a baby, and even a "curse" to the teams he plays for.

The Los Angeles Lakers were supposed to restore his fallen reputation. Then, the Houston Rockets were supposed to restore his reputation. Then, the Atlanta Hawks were supposed to restore his reputation. See, Dwight has been looking for a fresh start since 2012. The Hawks was a team where Dwight thought he could end his career on a positive note. Obviously

Obviously, though, things quickly blew up. Howard has had enough. He's had enough of the name-calling, he's had enough of the underappreciation, he's had enough of being unwanted.

And now, with the Hornets, D12 is putting everything on the line to save his basketball career. If he wants to end the reign of mediocrity, he'll have to fight through criticism and challenges to regain his glory. But is it even possible?

With the Magic, Dwight Howard was not Dwight Howard. He was Superman. He was power, he was strength, he was a hero for the city of Orlando.

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Coming off a season averaging 20 points and 13 rebounds per game, Dwight lead the Magic to the 2009 NBA Finals, where they'd eventually lose to the Lakers. Even so, to take a team like that so far, it was something truly magical.

Unfortunately, though, nothing lasts forever. The honeymoon period in Orlando ended for Howard, and things dramatically spiraled out of control. He wasn't getting along with the coaches, his teammates lost respect for him, and the ill-talented roster was not good enough to compete.

He thought the grass would be greener on another team, but he has never been the same since his days in Florida. In L.A., his back was too much of a burden for him to ignore. Eventually, that experiment ended in a screen of smoke and fire

In L.A., his back was too much of a burden for him to ignore. Eventually, that experiment ended in a screen of smoke and fire. In Houston, playing with Harden was supposed to help rebuild his tattered legacy while winning rings in the process. After a few decent years even fell apart.

Then he made his way to Atlanta, the hometown team that he viewed as his great redemption story. Going there was supposed to spark something special in him. Instead, he saw his role diminished even further. He found that his time there was ending just as quickly as it had started.

And that is how Dwight Howard ended up in Charlotte. He didn't come as a man ready for fresh beginnings, or a man hoping to just have some fun. He arrived as an angry, beat-up, former superstar that seemed determined to end the story his way. And so far, he's done all the right things.

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He's doing and saying all the things he should be. He could prove to be a valuable asset for the Hornets.

Sadly for him, even that may not be enough anymore. "Superman" is outdated. Dwight will never be that guy again, he's too old and the game it too changed. His reputation for playfulness and un-dedication will haunt him for years to come.

The fans, the league, the teams, they've all moved on from Dwight Howard. Nobody wants to wait for a potential resurrection any more. The many, many hits his legacy and reputation have taken are just too great for folks to forget about.

Dwight's legacy, his game, his value to the game of basketball could very well improve in Charlotte. That doesn't mean that he'll ever be a superstar again. D12 is still a great athlete who's accomplished a lot in this league. But he will never be Superman again, and he'll probably never get close. Those days are over.

This quest for redemption won't necessarily end in total failure, but it will definitely fall short of complete success.