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Superman returns: Howard taking flight again

Superman returns: Howard taking flight again

CHICAGO — There were times not too long ago, as the NBA left him for dead, as injuries gnawed at his body, and as his spirit and reputation suffered with it, when Dwight Howard, in his own words, “wanted to shy away from people.”

And so there were times, not too long before the renaissance, when Dwight Howard was no longer himself. As a basketball player and more importantly as a person. He was no longer the All-Star with the All-Star personality, nor the entertainer. He was no longer the crowd-pleaser who fed off the joy he gave others.

He was no longer Superman.

Because when he became a basketball liability on an outsized contract, the chatter crescendoed. He heard it. “There are a lot of people who are always going to tell you that you can’t do something,” Howard says. There was a lot of negativity that seeped into who he was.

Dwight Howard returns to the NBA Slam Dunk Contest, 12 years after his famous Superman slam in 2008. (Timothy A. Clary/AFP/Getty Images)

But over the past two summers, with his NBA value at an all-time low, he learned to stop listening. He learned that hearing “noise” and internalizing it are two different things. The former is inevitable. But the latter?

“No, I can’t do that,” Howard says of his recent change. “That’s not who I am. I’ve never been that way. So let me embrace the moment, embrace people, and just enjoy the moment.”

Because All-Star Saturday night is about joy, and so is Howard’s rebirth. “I decided coming into this year, he explained on Saturday, “that I wasn’t going to allow anything to steal my joy no matter what goes on.”

And Howard loved it.

“I enjoy dunking. I’ve been dunking my whole life basically,” he said Saturday. “After we finished dunking [at Venice Beach], I was like, ‘Man, that felt really good to really get the crowd into it, and just enjoy dunking a basketball again.’ ”

He admitted to being “surprised” that he could “still get up and dunk like that.” But “from that moment on,” Howard told himself, “ ‘I’m going to try to get myself ready for the dunk contest.’ And here we are, here today. This is great.”

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Source : Yahoo Sports Link

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