NBA star Dwight Howard has been around the NBA for such a long time that it’s easy to think he’s older. A tremendous athlete with a classic center’s frame, Howard hasn’t yet fulfilled the enormous expectations that follow him everywhere. But Howard is only 30 years old as he begins the 2016-17 NBA season, his first with the Atlanta Hawks. It’s perhaps worth noting — and certainly Howard would be glad to be reminded — that Shaquille O’Neal (his predecessor as self-proclaimed “Superman”) didn’t win his first title until he was 28. Michael Jordan was 28 also when he got his first ring.
This is Howard’s 13th season. Like O’Neal he’s done time in a Lakers and a Magic uniform. And he has gotten paid everywhere he’s gone. (He’ll make about $23 million this year in Atlanta.) But Howard, an 8-time All-Star, needs a title to get himself back into the NBA Greats conversation — instead of just the NBA great potential conversation. O’Neal won four championships. Howard’s time isn’t quite running out — Tim Duncan won a title at 38. But Howard knows his time starts now.