Free-agent Dwight Howard, the most coveted NBA player in 2013 Free Agency Trade, may not re-sign with Los Angeles Lakers, according to reports. If Howard, 28, ends up signing with Houston Rockets, he most likely will be teaming up with Jeremy Lin, 24, who knows how to get an open big man the basketball and can partner with Howard in remaining consistent in living out biblical values and spreading God’s word through the NBA.
Howard graduated from the Southwest Atlanta Christian Academy, and was the overall number one pick by the Orlando Magic during the 2004 NBA Draft. The 6-11 center was very outspoken as a young Christian man who wanted to make a big mark on the league, as a player and as a believer.
However, it was revealed that Howard had fathered a son with his (now ex-) girlfriend. This news caused a firestorm on both sides of the faith and sports debate. Many Christians were disappointed that the outspoken athlete had made such as public mistake.
In an interview with Beliefnet’s Chad Bonham in 2006, a year before the news of Howard fathering a child out of wedlock became public, Howard said, “I know that the NBA is just a way for me to tell people about God – you know that He is real. My purpose in life, my goal for the NBA is to preach God’s word – not just try to beat everybody over the head with a Bible but just being a good example and always conducting myself in a Christian-like manner.”
Bonham asked Howard how does he deal with temptations that typically present themselves in the NBA. Howard answered, “The flesh is one of the weakest things, especially in a man. That’s the biggest temptation that we all face. The only way for me being a Christian, me being a human, to not follow through with temptation, is to run from it and to stay away from those types of situations.”
Since the free-agent trade opened on this Monday midnight, media reported rumors allegedly from rival teams of Houston Rockets putting Jeremy Lin and Omer Asik on trade as an effort to acquire Howard from the Los Angeles Lakers. However, Rockets general manager Daryl Morey denied these rumors and said that the team is not going to trade Lin and Asik.
Lin, who has also been verbal about his faith in God, talked about temptations in the NBA in a Google+ hangout with military service men and women held Monday night.
“There is always going to be temptations not just in NBA but in life in general. There is always going to be your peers who are constantly looking at you, if you come up standing for something. It doesn’t matter what it is. Just make sure that when you do live your life, it is consistent. And when you try to do it, just make sure that you do it as consistently as you can.”
Bonham wrote that the Christian communities often times place “unrealistic and unhealthy” expectations on Christian athletes. “That was certainly the case with Howard who was set to claim the fictional role of ‘Christian ambassador to the NBA’ that Los Angeles Lakers A.C. Green left void upon his retirement in 2001.”
“Just like the rest of us, these athletes make mistakes on a daily basis. They just do so on a much larger stage and under a much more intense microscope,” he said.
Yet, the Bible is full of stories of how God forgives those who have sinned, as in the case of King David. Howard hasn’t said much about this faith since the revelation of his moral failure. However, the then-Magic star player was later revealed being baptized by his pastors from Summit Church in Orlando, which took place on a Sunday afternoon at New Smyrna Beach on October 24, 2010.
Howard told Bonham in the 2006 interview that he wants use his platform to send out the message that it doesn’t matter how old you are or how young you are, you still can be a Christian and live for God. Perhaps, the NBA All-Star can more effectively deliver this message together with teammates who share his faith and can sharpen each other both on and off the basketball court.