Saturday , Mar , 20 , 2010 Oly Sandor

Should Dwight Howard be Lex Luthor or Superman for Orlando Magic?

The Quick Hit: For years, Dwight Howard has been the good guy.

He’s constantly flashing his pearly white teeth –even during games. He imitates the Lion King and other Disney characters in timeouts. And he’s always the outlandish class clown.

Dwight Howard Superman

The knock on Howard is he’s too nice. Of course, nice guys, while they don’t necessarily finish last, don’t topple Alpha Males like Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, and hero-turned-tormentor Shaquille O’Neal in the quest for NBA championships.

And Howard, being the nice guy, doesn’t consistently use his raw tools to dominate both ends of the floor and too often settles for being a blending player on offence.

Lately, there have been signs Howard is changing. His perma-smile isn’t so permanent. He’s getting whistled for technical fouls like Rasheed Wallace. And, for now, a villainous Lex Luthor costume seems far more appropriate then the heroic Superman cape he donned at the Sprite Slam Dunk Contest.

This transformation is best for the Magic, who will surely benefit from nice guy Howard becoming what he can’t defeat: an Alpha Male.

Howard must assert himself on offence by demanding the ball down low. With more touches, he can establish himself as a post presence, draw double-teams, and kick to the team’s potent three-point gunners. Rasheed Lewis, in particular, needs to become more prominent if the Magic are to repeat as Eastern Conference champions and challenge for the Larry O’Brien trophy in June.

Teams take their cue from their best player. It’s great glue-guy Matt Barnes mans-up on Kobe Bryant in a regular season game and declares viral jihad on Lamar Odom via twitter. It’s far better when a perennial All-Star, like Howard, sets a physical, nasty tone for teammates to follow.

To Howard’s credit he has taken steps. Last month, he didn’t get freaked out when O’Neal tried unsuccessfully to rile him into a war of words before the All-Star game and just played when Orlando faced Cleveland in a game shortly after the mid season classic.

A year or two ago, Howard gets distracted, flustered, and, perhaps, has a poor game. Those days are over.

Howard is no longer pre-occupied with being the good guy. And his sometimes bad persona is all good in Orlando.

What role should Dwight Howard play for Orlando: Lex Luthor or Superman? Get at us in the comment box below with thoughts. Photo courtesy of Gagan Morothy.

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