The more things change, the more they stay the same. I find both comfort and uneasiness in that phrase. The way we move, communicate and perform simple tasks have gone through a metamorphosis throughout the decades. These advances are due to technology, environment, and the natural evolution of everything under the sun.
The writing industry has been flipped upside down as we propel forward into the digital age. People rarely get their news, scores, and updates from television, magazines, and newspapers like they did 15 years ago. The way things have taken shape—phones, tablets, and apps are the wave and everything else is slowly falling by the wayside.
Last Friday, Philadelphia was slammed with a winter storm, as rain, snow, high winds, and ice bombarded the city. Things were pretty hectic in my world to say the least, so I decided not to cover the game. This column doesn’t write itself, so I had some work to do. On Sunday afternoon I thought about who I could interview. I quickly decided on Dwight Howard, who was one of the people I was going to catch up with at the game.
Howard and I go back several years, as he has always been gracious with his time and availability. Outside of seeing him once a year, the only way I can contact him is through Snapchat. So that’s what I did.
I sent him a message, and let him know that I was writing a story, and I wanted to ask a few questions. Over the next 30-minutes or so, our conversation ranged from his favorite athlete growing up, to the 2008 summer games.
I didn’t make it to the game on Friday, I had a lot going on, plus the snow…I’m writing a story, can you answer a few questions?
I know man, I was looking for you.
Appreciate that man, always good to catch up. My first question is, when did you know that you could play in the NBA? Was there a moment, or specific game?
When I was 10 [years old]…I was playing with the high school guys, and I dominated them.
Man, that’s crazy. Who was your favorite athlete then?
Wilt Chamberlain. I had this talking robot and it always said Wilt Chamberlain, so I just did as much research on him as possible. I felt like I was him growing up.
That makes perfect sense because you’re always talking to Sonny Hill when you come to Philly.
Sonny [Hill] is the closest thing to Wilt [Chamberlain]. I would probably get starstruck over meeting Wilt, but never for anyone else.
You were a high school McDonald’s All-American, what was that experience like for you?
That was a great experience—you know, to be able to win the award during the game…MVP, but also the Naismith Award and all the awards that came withit was a great honor. I just remember having fun with all the guys. Candace Parker was there and some of the young ladies, I still have a connection to, to this day. It was a big honor and I’m happy to see how far the game has come…the atmosphere is crazy, and just watching those guys grow is great.
What was the recruiting process like for you, before you decided to go straight to the NBA?
It was crazy. It was unbelievable. I was getting literally, big bins of mail on a daily basis, you know. It’s an honor. Every piece of mail that I got, I was thankful. I said, “Thank you, Jesus,” for this moment. It was so much mail, so much, so many coaches calling and stuff like that, and coming to the games, and coming to our workouts…it was just a crazy experience, and I wish that all kids get an opportunity to feel that kind of love from an organization, or college, while they’re in that recruiting phase.
What school would you have gone to had you not entered the draft?
Everybody always asks me that, and I would probably go with UNC [University of North Carolina]. My dream was to always come out of high school and go to the NBA so that was always my plan, but if I would have had to go to college I probably would have went to UNC.
You played on the “Redeem Team” in the 2008 summer games, what was that experience like for you?
All of us were always together everyday: going to the gym, and then to McDonald’s—that was the biggest thing, that was the highlight of the day. After a hard day at practice we would go to McDonald’s and chill. That whole experience just brought us closer. It was just all about basketball. It was about life and developing friendships that last forever. I think me and Carlos [Boozer], and Chris Bosh really bonded. We talk a lot everyday, we’re always emailing each other, and checking up on one another and we need that. We have people going through the same stuff we’re going through and it makes it a lot better.
I always wanted to ask you what was it like at the time being the only adidas guy on Team USA?
You held it down for adidas.
I was a little bit upset because I was the only one with adidas on, and you know Nike…I love Nike though, [but] they didn’t want to put your boy nowhere. They tried to cover my feet up.
Yeah, I remember they hid your shoes in the team picture.
Yeah! It’s all good though. We won the gold and that’s what the experience was all about, winning the gold for our country and getting USA Basketball back to being No. 1.