Last summer, Dwight Howard became a household name to casual basketball fans while helping Team USA to a gold medal at the Beijing Olympics. This offseason, Howard is becoming well-known to more than just basketball fans — he’s gaining recognition in all households.
Video games, movies, late-night talk shows, Twitter, commercials, Sportscenter, Ustream… you name it, Dwight’s there. Virtually every medium has been flooded with the Dwight brand, and the 23-year-old is blossoming into one of the world’s most popular sports figures. A person that works with Dwight’s promotions team said they’re working hard to keep Dwight on the cutting edge of technology and want to make him the face of new Media.
Dwight has become one of the most prominent Twittering celebrities and made an appearance on Ustream well before Stephon Marbury did. And before you say anything, he says he’s been working out twice a day and working hard on his free throws. He’s also been working at his basketball camps in Atlanta and Orlando throughout the past couple weeks. Here’s a look at the top ten moments of Dwight’s busy offseason. Keep in mind that he’s constantly Twittering, blogging and Facebooking between all of these events.
Dwight, like the rest of the Magic’s players and fans, was pretty perturbed when the Kobe-LeBron puppet commercials aired before either of them had reached the NBA Finals. So when Channel 6 presented Dwight with his own puppet during the playoffs, he loved it. A few days after the NBA Finals ended, Dwight put on a puppet show for Media members:
Dwight took the trip down I-4 to throw out the first pitch at the Rays-Yankees game. From what I hear he threw a four-seamer that grazed the outside corner.
On my first day as a reporting intern for the Orlando Sentinel, I found myself sitting on the bleachers at the Magic practice facility, watching the Oklahoma City Thunder play the Boston Celtics. I tried to fight my nerves as I watched the clock wind down. Soon, I was going to conduct my first interview. Little did I realize I would be the one getting interviewed. It was then that Magic All-Star center Dwight Howard sat down next to me. I moved over, grabbing my papers, trying to give him room. That’s when he picked up my tape recorder. I figured he was going to hand it to me, and I thought to myself, ‘I can tell my friends Dwight Howard sat down next to me and handed me my tape recorder!’ But instead, he turned to me, pushed record and asked, “Why do you guys always ask us the same questions every time you interview us?”
Dwight continued and asked the girl several more questions. Newspapers may be a dying medium, but Dwight still has it covered.
Because a man that big shouldn’t have so much grace.
One day after the Los Angeles Lakers celebrated on the Amway Arena floor, EA Sports announced that e the poster-athlete for NBA Live 10. It was a major “I’m here” moment for Howard, joining the ranks of young players such as Tony Parker, Dwyane Wade, Gilbert Arenas and Kevin Garnett as NBA Live representatives.
In an effort to further connect with fans, Dwight went on the web-cam site Ustream and answered fans’ Twitter questions live. You can see his rances here. Ustream is the Web site where Stephon Marbury split the atom and where Chad Ochocinco won back fans — before them, though, Dwight was there.
EA Sports put on a competition between Dwight, Venus Williams, soccer player Sasha Kljestan and hockey player Milan Lucic in each of their respective sports in a “King of the Court” competition. Suffice to say, Dwight won, no matter how odd it was to see a 6-foot-11 monster play hockey and tennis. Check out the picture and video:
Dwight met with executives at Warner Horizon with an idea for a reality show called “Dwight Across America.” Here’s the basic premise:
ant to jump into a really big customized tour bus (the kind the rock stars use) with a few of my friends and take a trip from the East Coast to the west coast. I want to get out and meet some of the 3 million fans that voted for me in last years all-star game as well as some of the 1 million folks that follow me on twitter and facebook. Actually, my plan is to find 12 really cool American spots between my home in Orlando and the shores of California.
It would likely happen next summer, and there’s a good chance it could happen. Reality shows following athletes cost almost nothing to make and are becoming more and more common.
In Dwight’s late-night debut, he chatted it up with Jimmy Fallon and competed in an arcade basketball shootout with the host — and lost. Here’s the video if you haven’t seen it:
Julia Roberts, Anne Hathaway, Jessica Alba, Jessica Biel, Jennifer Garner, Ashton Kutcher, Jamie Foxx… Dwight Howard? The Magic center visited the set of “Valentine’s Day” to make a cameo, but ended up shooting several scenes in the romantic comedy. The movie, which will come out sometime next year, will be the first big-screen appearance for Howard. For video of Howard on the set, check out his Facebook page. … … And one more, just for fun.
Dwight and his entourage took a trip to a Steak N Shake restaurant in Central Florida, wearing wigs in a play off of Dave Chappelle’s famous set of Rick James skits. This became a theme this summer — Dwight and his boys taking random pictures and videos throughout the country.
Photo credits: Dwight Howard, Associated Press, Firstshowing.net