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Hakeem Olajuwon called Dwight Howard a scaredy cat.
His exact term was “afraid,” but still, calling out a big man like that is usually “fightin’ werds.”
Howard didn’t flinch. He listened, took things to heart.
I don’t know if Howard’s mentoring hook-up with Hakeem will be much ado about nothing or a pivotal turning point in his career. It’s certainly has made for some frisky blogosphere chatter about Hakeem’s influence on Howard, the scope of Patrick Ewing‘s ability to make Howard a better player, and whether Howard himself is committed to the cause.
We’ll find out shortly when the invites roll out for a new downtown arena, future home of the Orlando Magic and their championship dreams.
Right now, there’s good reason to be pumped up about the prospects. [...]
Howard said he worked with Hakeem for a week this offseason in Houston. They will connect again shortly as part of a team for the Basketball without Borders program in Senegal. Given the comparisons to ninjas and assassinations, it’s obvious that Hakeem is playing head games with Howard, in a very good way.
Another Hakeem Olajuwon update.
Unlike the Chris Paul rumors that are dormant for the time being, Howard teaming up with Olajuwon is a reality and not a dream. Howard has already spent time with Olajuwon in Houston, and it appears that he will continue to work with him as he heads off to Senegal for the NBA’s Basketball without Borders program.
For Magic fans, that’s music to their ears.
It’s no secret that the Eastern Conference has gotten considerably stronger in the off-season. The East is no longer top-heavy, with the emergence of the Miami Heat and the Chicago Bulls entering the fray as credible threats. The point is, the Orlando Magic will have a tough time trying to return to the NBA Finals.
And this is where Howard comes into play.
Given what’s at stake for the Magic, Howard must take his game to the next level if he wants to lead his team to the promised land. Howard is the best defensive player in the NBA, but there’s no question that he needs to be equally as dominant on offense for Orlando to get where they want to go. Olajuwon’s wisdom is invaluable, in this case, because he’s been telling Howard not to be afraid to use his full arsenal of moves and not hesitate from doing anything on the floor — this is where the ninja analogy enters the discussion. Howard proved a lot in the 2010 NBA Eastern Conference Finals against the Boston Celtics, averaging 22 points per game against Kendrick Perkins as well as Rasheed Wallace (two players he’s struggled to score against in the past) and having moments of brilliance. The hope for Howard, with the help of Olajuwon, is that he carries that momentum to next season and unleashes his fury on the league.
Howard is so close to reaching his zenith.
Can Howard fully evolve into a devastating two-way player? We’ll find out soon enough.