Dwight Howard plays for Taiwan’s T1 League Taoyuan Leopards

Dwight Howard

Dwight HowardPhoto: Getty Images

Former slam dunk champion Dwight Howard, aka Superman, entered the 2022 NBA season on the free agent roster. So far, no one has knocked on Howard’s door during training camp and three weeks into the season. And you’ll never guess which team will give Howard a chance to continue his career – probably because you’ve never heard of them.

The three-time NBA Defensive Player of the Year’s basketball journey has taken him to Taiwan to play for the Taoyuan Leopards of Taiwan’s T1 League, Howard announced via Instagram Monday.

“Taiwan, I have amazing news for you. Superman’s in the building,” Howard exclaimed, barely able to contain his excitement.

“I’ve always loved the energy I felt when visiting Taiwan, as you can see, I still have posters on my walls from my first 2 visits! I am ready to enjoy life playing the sport I love in front of a group of people who love me and my people in Taiwan, have your posters ready to truly welcome yours,” he said 2020 NBA champion.

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Pro sports are sometimes fun because they can be very similar to high school. Those who are not in the scene are simply turned away and seen as outsiders. That was Howard for much of his career. Check out his awards and judge for yourself:

8-time All-NBAE, 8-time All-Star, 5-time Rebound Champion, 3-time Defensive POYNBA Champion (2020), Slam Dunk Champion (2008), 2004-05 All-Rookie Team

But when it came time to announce the NBA’s 75th anniversary team last year, Howard was nowhere to be found. If Anthony Davis had made this list, Howard should have been a lock. Davis was once a great player, but his list of accomplishments can’t match what Howard achieved in the Association. In fact, Howard and Davis got into a fight on the Lakers touchline last season right around the time of the unveiling of the team’s 75th anniversary.

Howard talks about playing the sport he loves in front of people who love him. It never felt like the NBA really loved him for any reason. He became embroiled in a nonsensical feud with NBA legend Shaquille O’Neal over a nickname neither owns the rights to. Shaq was a great player but he doesn’t own the nickname and frankly needs to get over it. O’Neal likes to boast about having earned multiple college degrees. Now, how about using some of that intellect to check yourself and RELAX?

In light of this latest revelation, it’s amazing to see how little the NBA thinks of Howard. Instead of a team obliging Howard to come off the bench to play 15 minutes a night, he is forced to play abroad. Howard says he loves the people of Taiwan and their energy, but if he had the opportunity, he probably would have been played for the veteran minimum in the NBA this year.

If Deandre Jordan is still picking up a paycheck in the NBA, Howard should be in line to do the same. Jordan plays 13 minutes per game in Denver, averaging six rebounds and half a blocked shot per game. Howard did the same for the Lakers last season in 16 minutes, averaging more points than Jordan in the process.

At no point in Deandre Jordan’s career has he ever been a better basketball player than Dwight Howard. Not in the NBA. But like everything else in life, if you team up with the right people, you can get the benefit of the doubt from outsiders. When Kevin Durant came to Brooklyn, he had to have Jordan, and we saw how that worked. Well past his prime, DJ continues to receive calls while Howard is no longer playing in the league.

Sure, Howard wasn’t always the easiest to get along with – ask Stan Van Gundy. And his attitude rubbed some the wrong way — Kobe Bryant wasn’t a fan either — but it’s despicable that he’s shunned in this way. Howard even dealt with rumors about his sexuality, which he put to rest a few years ago. Whether these rumors played a role in his treatment in the league over the years is uncertain, but the fact remains that Howard was one of the pre-eminent great men of his time.

Now that Howard has signed on to play in Taiwan, it’s taking him off the NBA radar for a while. But if he plays well enough in T1 league, it could open the door for Howard to return and finish his NBA career on his terms.