Following the second straight Magic loss in the playoffs, Dwight Howard was asked how he felt about Paul Pierce’s allusions to sweeping Orlando in the Eastern Conference Finals. His response?
“Am I supposed to have a comment on that?” Howard said. “No, they only won two games. I mean, they can write what they want. But we’re going to stay humble and stay focused. Pride comes before a fall, just know that.”
Howard was paraphrasing the Biblical Proverb 16:18, which reads “Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall.” The curious part about this response is the fact that Howard chose to highlight this part of the Bible to illustrate how blasphemous nature of Pierce’s over-confidence. The Bible certainly views pride unfavorably. But what does it say about vanity? or wealth? What would the Bible say about this? Or this? Or how about this?
I am sure the Bible could prove that Dwight Howard, the guy whose staunch Religious beliefs are well documented (here), is the least Holy player in the NBA. However, the point of this post is not to question Dwight Howard’s religious beliefs or the duplicity of religion in sports. This is meant to clarify why the Celtics will win this series and to assuage Celtics’ fans worries with regards to Paul Pierce’s potential jinxing.
The Celtics will win this series because they are the better team, their offense is not predicated on throwing the ball to their star center and hoping for the best, and they are incredibly focused.
That last bit, focus, is exactly what Dwight Howard lacks. Throughout these past two games, he has seemed very disengaged with what is actually being determined on the basketball court. When the going got tough, he took the easy way out and flagrantly fouled Paul Pierce. When his team was down late in a playoff game, he seemed more passionate about having a jovial exchange with a fan rather than discuss the game plan- so much so that Rashard Lewis had to run over and bring Howard back into the fold.
Howard has a million-dollar smile and a beautiful off-court-persona, but he appears more interested with his “Clack Kent interviews Dwight Howard” halftime bit than actually having a lead at halftime. I have only seen one Celtic smile this entire playoffs- which was Rajon Rondo after defeating the Cavaliers in Game 6. I savored that smile for what it was: a fleeting glimpse of what Celtics’ fans might see a lot more. Not now though, and not for a while yet.
If the Magic are going to make any noise in this series, it unfortunately (for the Magic) starts with Howard. So far, he has bounced back from a less-than-impressive Game 1 to have a great Game 2- individually, that is.
I was (un)lucky enough to attend the February 7th Celtics vs. Magic game at the Garden and I had a few observations I have been saving for a rainy day:
Blow-out or not, I could not help but think of how different Dwight Howard was from Larry Bird. This was due mostly to the fact that I was reading, “When the Game was Ours” by Jackie MacMullan at the time. So many things struck me about Bird’s view on basketball, competition, and endorsements- all of which came flooding back to me when I saw this gem during Tuesday night’s game:
Focus, preparation, and insatiability. That is why the Celtics will win this series. I know Dwight Howard knows who Larry Bird is, but after seeing this commercial I had to pause, laugh to myself and say, “why am I not surprised?”