August 3, 2010
Dwight Howard coming to India!
Brace yourself, fellow Hoopistanis... the NBA is about to make a BIG presence (in every sense of the word) in India - news has leaked that none other than Dwight Howard of the Orlando Magic will be landing in our shores in 10 days.
Howard will be one of the biggest stars to ever come to India - the Magic player is the reigning two-time Defensive Player of the Year, has been the league's leading rebounder for the past three seasons, is a four-time all star, three-time member of the All-NBA First team, is a Slam Dunk Champion from 2008, and is the self-proclaimed new Superman (although a certain Shaq may have something to say about that!)
This is exciting news for basketball fans in India, as the NBA continues its grand plan to popularise the sport in the country. A big player was promised... and a big player will be delivered... In the shape of the 6 foot 11 'Minotaur', the best Center in the league!
The NBA in India is currently busy with implementing the Bangalore and Ludhiana Mahindra-NBA Challenge programmes - a surprisingly positive response has been seen from hoopsters from both these cities, and also from the Mumbai league that was held a couple of months ago.
Howard (24), was the first pick by the Orlando Magic in the 2004 draft - he joined the NBA straight after high school from the Southwest Atlanta Christian Academy. Ever since, he has been one of the league's most dominant players - grabbing rebounds, swatting shots, donning on the 'Superman' cape for the Slam Dunk competitions, and collecting double-doubles like spare change. He has led the Magic to three straight division titles and one conference title, when the Magic went to the NBA Finals in 2009 (only to lose 4-1 to the Lakers).
Howard is traveling around the world this off-season - he has been to China and Taiwan in the past few weeks, conducting clinics, playing pickup basketball and judging dunk contests as a part of promotional tours for the NBA, Amway and Adidas. He heads to Senegal next, and then to India. He will also follow Amar'e Stoudemire's footsteps into Israel this offseason.
The visit brings back memory of Kevin Garnett's adidas-promotion visit in 2006, when he was mobbed by crazed fans everywhere he went (including by yours truly at the Sanksriti School in Delhi!).
Come on over, D12. India is waiting with open arms. Someone find a large pagri to fit his head.