01 June 2009

Stern shouldn't worry about no LeBron-Kobe face-off

David Stern isn't worried about the cash he's missing out on due to the lack of a Kobe Bryant-LeBron James match-up in the NBA Finals. Not only is a Lakers-Magic Finals a better series, but Bryant v. Dwight Howard should be a better marketing situation.

Sure, Bryant and Howard won't guard each other like James and Bryant would have on a few possessions each game, but it doesn't really matter. In fact, Bryant doesn't really matter, because Dwight Howard is the NBA's most marketable player, whether the league knows it or not.

Howard not only defeated James on the court with his incredible Game 6 performance, but he dominates James off-the-court. Howard has more personality and more originality and is more fun than James. Howard also wasn't anointed as anything and has had to earn all the love he's gotten since he was drafted #1 over Emeka Okafor in 2004.

Howard has become one of the league's best interviews. He jokes around and has refreshing sense of humor. His cracks won't make him the last comic standing, but he isn't re-telling the same old same old NBA-player jokes.

Howard isn't afraid to be a little bit different than typical pro basketball players, either. Yes, the whole Superman bit was stolen from therealShaq, but Shaq can't even fly, and calling yourself Superman isn't exactly authentic.

It's not just Howard's words that are a bit different. Since the early 90s, dunk contest has been shunned by the big stars, except as an avenue to get some quality face-time by overreacting to a good-but-not-great dunk. Howard goes to perform, and after three years of watching Howard winning people over with his contest dunks, guess who wants in? King James, or at least he declared so in the heat of the most recent contest.

More than anything else, Howard seems like a higher-quality hang than probably any NBA player. A day with him would consist of more than talking about business deals and how he wants to be a billionaire. You might not eat good food, his body being as great as it is, but you'd still have enjoy your playdate.

Despite being silly, Dwight Howard is still respected as a basketball player. The skinny top draft pick with braces has worked his body into an unstoppable force. When he was drafted, scouts, coaches, reporters and analysts weren't making proclamations of deity, but were saying sentences that ended with question marks. We weren't "witnesses", we were non-believers.

The NBA seems bent on making James the next Jordan, it isn't even funny. Seriously, it isn't. It's boring. Howard is much more likable, so much more fun, so much more interesting than James. Not to mention more likely to win a title.

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