The NBA has released its 75th Anniversary Team with 76 names and Dwight Howard is not among them. Before the reasons why he is NOT on the list. Here's why he should be on the list:
--Averaged a double-double 14 consecutive seasons(only Charles Barkely and Karl Malone tie that mark)
--All NBA 8 times, 5 times was first-team All-NBA(the list of 75 includes numerous players who never made one All-NBA team)
--3 straight defensive player of the year awards
--8 All-Star games
--Led NBA in rebounding 6 times
--From 2006-2011 he was the most dominant center in the game
Dwight has 6,000 more points, 8,000 more rebounds and 1,000 more blocks, 3 more defensive player of the year awards, 5 more rebounder leading awards than Anthony Davis. But Davis is on the list.
Why is Dwight NOT on the list? He is not liked. Whatever the reason is among NBA players, he's not popular and never was. The media never liked Dwight from Superman to his Orlando exit to his awkward sidekick role with Kobe to bouncing around from team to team at the end of his career- all reasons he has never been viewed as the dominant player he was. Dwight Howard SHOULD be on the list because a guy can be a jerk yet still be one of the best players of his era and one of the best to play the game...
Here's a thought on DeShaun Watson and the many rumors about him becoming a Miami Dolphin. Owner Stephen Ross is 81 and wants to win. Old owners tend to feel that way- see Jerry Jones. Ross might be the one pushing for a trade while coach Brian Flores wants no part of it. Why Ross would want all the legal noise that comes with Watson is curious but this is and always will be a league about winning. While a trade for Watson might bring a few protestors outside Hard Rock Stadium, will it lead to a half-empty stadium inside when the game starts? Not likely. And that might be a bigger problem with society but sports fans juggle their moral views with their sports passion. I still think the Texans started the latest Watson rumors but I also think this might be more of a Ross play than his coach's desire to make a change at QB...
Monday night, UCF's Gus Malzahn told me on his weekly radio show that Dillon Gabriel was beginning to start some drills and hopes to play again this season. I asked him again Thursday morning when he was on for his weekly visit with Mike Bianchi and myself to share what the plan for Gabriel might be. He again said Dillon was beginning to run and soft toss and would see how things progress in the coming weeks. What does all this mean?
It means Dillon Gabriel wants to play football- not next season- but this season. It means if he can get medically cleared he wants to return and help his team no matter how many games are left. Why? Why not get healthy and return at 100% for 2022 and have three seasons of eligibility left? Because Gabriel is not likely to play three more years at UCF. All players got a free year of eligibility from the Covid year of 2020 and if he doesn't play in a 5th game this year he could count 2021 as a redshirt season. Guessing today, I can see Gabriel playing in 2022 and 2023. He may have a great season next fall and feel he's ready for the NFL. But NFL scouts may think differently and a return in 2023 becomes realistic. That would be ideal for UCF with an expected debut in the Big XII in 2023. Those are reasons that Gabriel and his coach are looking at a possible return this fall. I am guessing again here(HE SAID GUESSING. DON'T GO TELLING ANYONE THAT DANIELS SAID GABRIEL WILL RETURN FOR THIS GAME) that the team could target the SMU game November 13 or the UCONN game on November 20. It is also possible that Gabriel's rehab is slower than all hope and a decision is made to shut it down. But Gabriel's mindset is to get back on the field and to do it this season...
Did the media on the SEC Coaches Conference call think it would go down like this:
Reporter:"Dan, who will be your starting QB for the Georgia game?"
Mullen:"It will be Anthony Richardson. It's obvious I need to make a change and seriously doubt if Emory will be here next year."
Reporter:"Will you be firing your defensive coordinator Todd Grantham?"
Mullen:"Yes, I think we will make a change there. The guy is not getting it done."
Reporter:"Dan, are you on the hot seat?"
Mullen:"I think so. My buyout is $12M, so I am prepared for that to happen."
Orlando City owner Mark Wilf sat down for an interview with me on Thursday and we talked about a variety of topics and you can listen to that interview here: https://969thegame.iheart.com/featured/beat-of-sports/content/2021-10-21-mark-wilf-talks-buying-into-orlando-investing-in-club-and-more/
Two things that jump out to me are Wilf appears to see that the casual fan needs to romanced back to the stadium. Orlando City is playing well and making a push to host a home playoff match but Exploria Stadium is maybe just over half-full for matches. There is a growing view among passionate and casual fans that as nice as the stadium is and the in-game experience may be, there is a lack of tailgating and pre and post game options. Numerous other MLS cities have their stadium in the middle of a busy district of entertainment and it adds to the "want" to be part of the party. The Wilf family's background is real estate and retail development. I think they will aggressively look at changing the surrounding area and making it a mix-use project of restaurants, bars, corporate offices and housing. It may take a decade to develop but they are here for the long term. They know valuations of MLS teams are soaring and their investment gets only more value with a packed stadium and a thriving district surrounding it.
The second interesting point is about the willingness to spend money on players. With more and more NFL billionaire owners buying MLS teams the league will see it's model on team/player spending change. While the MLS is not about to compete every transfer window with the top European clubs for players, there appears to be a willingness to compete more than in the past. With a number of NFL owners having a controlling interest in Premier League teams, there will never be a MLS full scale attack on bidding but there will be millions and millions of dollars put up in the coming years and that could be fascinating on so many levels...
Final thought: Most butterflies live less than one year.