Blog Entry

Dwight Howard = Wilt Chamberlain?

Posted on: February 25, 2010 1:05 pm
Edited on: February 25, 2010 1:35 pm
 
When Dwight Howard isn't ignoring immature taunts from Shaquille O'Neal, how does he stay busy?

On Wednesday night, he put his name in the same sentence with Wilt Chamberlain.

I'd like to be able to say, "Dwight, I knew Wilt Chamberlain. And you're no Wilt Chamberlain." Sadly, I didn't meet the late, great Wilt until he joined the rest of the NBA's 50 Greatest at the 1997 All-Star Game in Cleveland. I have spent considerable time around Dwight Howard -- watching him perform with boyish enthusiasm and astounding athletic talent, and listening to him thoughtfully, respectfully, and sometimes playfully answer questions from inquiring types like me.

At 24, Howard's resume has a long way to go before he can hold it up against Wilt's, or even Shaq's. Those are facts. So is this: Dwight Howard did something Wednesday night that nobody had accomplished since Chamberlain in 1969, a year before I was born.

In Orlando's 110-92 victory in Houston, Howard had 31 points and 16 rebounds and was 11-for-11 from the field. He also had three assists, one block and was 8-for-12 from the foul line, but that's not the point. The point is, Howard became the first player since Chamberlain to record at least 30 points and 15 rebounds while not missing a shot in at least 10 field-goal attempts. He also recorded his 19th consecutive double-double, a franchise record that broke a tie with -- you guessed it -- O'Neal.

Nobody is saying that Howard = Chamberlain, or even that Howard = Shaq. But it's time to stop dismissing the most physically overwhelming talent in the NBA as a mere freak. Howard is a freak who has his team playing the best basketball in the league.

When it comes to doubting Howard's killer instinct, offensive fundamentals and meanness, I'm guilty as charged. I've questioned Howard's desire to be the alpha male from time to time. But I'm ready to put that aside and just enjoy him for what he is and what he will be -- the most dominant big man in the NBA for the next decade or so.

Last season, Howard became only the fifth player in NBA history to lead the league in blocks and rebounds in the same season. Neither Chamberlain nor Shaq is on that list, which includes Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Bill Walton, Hakeem Olajuwon, and Ben Wallace. (In fairness, the NBA didn't count blocks as an official statistic until the 1973-74 season.) Howard currently leads the league in both categories again, and if he repeats the feat, he'll stand alone as the only player ever to do it twice.

More importantly, Howard's team is winning. The Magic are 13-4 since Jan. 20, and no other team has as many wins during that stretch.

The Cavs got Shaq for one reason, and one reason only: To contend with Howard in the playoffs. They just added Antawn Jamison in the hopes that they'll have an answer for Rashard Lewis, who destroyed Cleveland in the conference finals last season. Jamison is too much of a pro to belittle Lewis or anybody else. That hasn't stopped O'Neal from incessantly taunting Howard, calling him an impostor, and generally dismissing him as little more than a wart on his ample behind.

All of this will come home to roost in the playoffs, when the Cavs will have to get past Howard and the Magic if LeBron James is going to deliver the championship that he and the city of Cleveland so desperately need. Take a look at these numbers, crunched by NBA.com's John Schuhmann, showing the dramatic difference in LeBron's production against Orlando with Howard on the floor vs. off the floor since 2007-08. The translation: Howard is so good that he makes the best player in the NBA significantly worse.

Whatever happens in May and June, we know this: Howard will be there with a smile on his face. And he will let his play do the talking.


 

Comments

Since: Aug 16, 2006
Posted on: May 15, 2010 11:33 am
 

Dwight Howard = Wilt Chamberlain?

Ocf course he is NOT on par with Chamberlain: but when I think of a player who is even remotely comparable to Chamberlain in big man athleticism.....

I go
1. Chamberlain 10+++
2. Howard 9
3. Shaq  O'Neal 8



Since: Feb 24, 2009
Posted on: February 26, 2010 6:13 pm
 

Dwight Howard = Wilt Chamberlain?

Hmmm. I must say that some of the responses I've read about the comparison really makes me question how much basketball IQ/common sense exist out  there. Walt was a great player, but let's face it, he was an anomaly in his time. His size (7-1, 250+lbs), in an age where the average center was 6'7"-6'10", with his coordination and speed those numbers should have been better then 50ppg and 25rpg. Pound for pound, I'd rather have a Dwight Howard and definitely a Michael Jordan because they can give outstanding performances against opponents who are bigger and stronger than themselves. Put Walt in the era of Shaq, Patrick Ewing, Hakeem and other quality 7 footers, will he have the same numbers? I think it was a good article, keep up the good work.



Since: Apr 27, 2008
Posted on: February 26, 2010 4:45 pm
 

Dwight Howard = Wilt Chamberlain?

Is Kevin Durant a center? The title/topic of this article calls out two centers and said nothing about any other position as a comparison. How do you even compare a center to a two guard/small forward?



Since: Oct 19, 2009
Posted on: February 26, 2010 4:31 pm
 

Dwight Howard = Wilt Chamberlain?

Easy there, Wilt lovers. If Wilt played today, he'd be on the bench in the D-league. The Botswana D-League. The game was different back then. Smaller players, slower players. Wilt was kinda dominated by Bill Russel when they played, so that tells you how he stacked up against a smaller, but fearless player. His jumper, and that's giving him a lot of credit up front, was slow and predictable. And unlike Kareem, who still has the most undefendable shot in the history of the game, Wilt didn't have a hook shot.

The game changes with time and talent. To me, Jordan will never be topped. But LeBron and Kobe still have some years ahead of them. Wilt was good, but against lesser competitors. Watch the films and look closely at the pics.



Since: Oct 19, 2009
Posted on: February 26, 2010 4:26 pm
 

Dwight Howard = Wilt Chamberlain?

if wilt played today, he'd be on the bench in the D-league. The Botswana D-League. The game was different back then. Smaller players, slower players. Wilt was kinda dominated by Bill Russel when they played, so that tells you how he stacked up against a smaller, but fearless player.

The game changes with time and talent. To me, Jordan will never be topped. But LeBron and Kobe still have some years ahead of them. Wilt was good, but against lesser competitors. Watch the films and look closely at the pics.



Since: Jan 17, 2007
Posted on: February 26, 2010 2:51 pm
 

Dwight Howard = Wilt Chamberlain?

LAlakers: I disagree with your assessment of the talent level in the Chamberlain era.  You make the point yourself, actually, pointing out that there were a lot fewer teams, so the talented players were concentrated in far fewer teams.  The Celtics were stocked with HoF players for years, as were the Philadelphia teams that Chamberlain played on.  Look at the rosters of the best teams in that era and you will see that the talent level was very, very high, not "weak" as you suggest.  It's true that there is more defense played today, but the main thing that has held down scoring and rebounding numbers in recent years is rule changes...the 3-second rule on both offense and defense, the widening of the lane (twice), and a variety of other tweaks along the way.  One thing that Chamberlain and Howard certainly have in common is that neither of them shot FTs well, although when Rick Barry hit 32 straight in the 70s, the record he broke was held by Wilt, who once made 28 straight!  Who'd a thunk it??  BTW, even in the latter part of his career, Wilt still averaged 20 boards a game.  He did that in 1972, for instance, when his teammate Happy Hairston averaged 13.  W/o Hairston, he'd have had closer to 25.



Since: Feb 3, 2009
Posted on: February 26, 2010 2:18 pm
 

Dwight Howard = Wilt Chamberlain?

You're right. You can't compare that era to this era. If Wilt played today, there would be no chance of him averaging anything close to 50 points and 25 rebounds a game. Maybe he could get 30 and 15? Put Shaq in Wilt's era and he would probably put up some crazy numbers himself. The rules were different, the overall talent of the league was much weaker, and there were a lot less teams. Not to mention Wilt played 48 minutes per game for a lot of his career. His numbers are inflated big time because of the reasons I just stated. It's like some old baseball records that will never be broken and are a product of the era in which those players played. No offense to Russell either because while I'm sure he was the best player on those Celtic teams, that was an all star team if I've ever seen one. Especially considering the league overall was so weak. They probably had 5 of the top 8-10 players in the league. Of course they're gonna win every championship. No disrespect to Wilt and Russell, but Michael Jordan was the best player ever. Anyone who played against him I think would agree. In an era with lots of talent and good teams, he put up amazing numbers and won 6 championships.(would have been 8)



Since: Nov 15, 2008
Posted on: February 26, 2010 1:30 pm
 

Dwight Howard = Wilt Chamberlain?

Dwight Howard is overrated. He plays center in a league that doesn't have any true centers. He can't dominate an old washed up Shaq!



Since: Jul 4, 2008
Posted on: February 26, 2010 1:22 pm
 

Dwight Howard = Wilt Chamberlain?

We have , K Bryant , L James , C Anthony , P Pierce , K Durant , and many others not mentioned here ,  BUT WE ONLY HAVE ONE D HOWARD , THE ONLY GOOD  AND BEST CENTER IN THIS LEAGUE . The Magic will defeat the Cavs in five games  . Go D Howard , the center that the others 29 teams wants , specially the Cavs . The Cavs have to add the weak O'neil and Jamison to compete with the Magic . Tell me who is the best team player in the NBA . James doesn't like to congratulate the other teams player when he is kiked out of the court .



Since: Feb 1, 2010
Posted on: February 26, 2010 12:31 pm
 

Dwight Howard = Wilt Chamberlain?

I do not wish to take away from Chamberlain's numbers, but let's not forget the time era that he produced the numbers. I'm sure his numbers would still be great today, but he was truly the superman of his era-he had offensive weapons that no others at that time even closely had. In today's game, however, that is not even close to the case.

Perhaps the best resolve would be for us to not compare two generations that are so different. It really cannot be done on a fair scale.


The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com