As it turns out, that decidedly quiet period of Josh Howard’s career? Maybe not so quiet. That maturity he seemed to be showing in refusing to bow down to trade talk? A clever ruse put on by Howard and the Mavs to build up his public image and keep his trade value high.
That is, of course, if Eddie Sefko’s Maverick sources are correct in asserting that Josh Howard missed a regular season game after hitting the firewater a bit too hard:
The juicy piece of irony is that Howard ended up in Washington, which may well have been the site where he had the beginning of the end, according to several Maverick sources. They say Howard had a long night of partying on Jan. 19, the night after the Mavericks had won in Boston and less than 24 hours before playing the Wizards. The team officially said he missed the game against Washington on Jan. 20 with a stomach illness. But sources said team officials could not deny that it was a self-inflicted game off. Howard’s agent, Jeff Schwartz, did not comment on the incident.
Initially, Howard was taking something of a silent stand, responding to 103.3 ESPN Radio’s Ben Rogers with the following message via text:
“not responding to a lie.. My lawyers ar taking action… Thanks.. That’s a response.”
Howard, however, did eventually respond to the incident. Here’s Josh’s response via Michael Lee of the Washington Post:
After the Wizards defeated Minnesota on Wednesday, Howard said he would like to “stick it to” the Mavericks. But when asked about the story, he said, “I’ll just leave it alone. I know it’s not true.” He said excessive partying the night before was not the reason he missed the game. “I was sick and that was it,” Howard said. “I don’t know where that is coming from and it’s sad they are trying to talk about me the way they are. That was over a month ago. It’s amazing how stuff is coming up like this now and I’m not even there. But I know I didn’t do anything and it’s time to move on.”
It’s tough to know how exactly to process the information. You obviously don’t want players boozing up the night before a game to the point that they’re unable to play. But Josh isn’t a Maverick anymore, and all of this is frankly, a bit irrelevant for Dallas’ purposes. The team was aware of what happened, they did their best to shield the issue from public view, and then they accomplished their objective (trading Josh). It’s really no different than a million other team issues that are dealt with in-house, despite how surprising it may be.
Admittedly, I’m a little disappointed. Even as the end was near, I was willing to give Josh the benefit of the doubt and a second (Third? Fourth?) chance. But these are the kinds of tales that can color a player’s reputation, despite the fact that he’s no longer a part of the team. We all knew that Josh was a fun-loving guy, and I readily accept that this type of thing is well within the NBA lifestyle. But that lifestyle is all well and good until it intersects with actual games. Part of me hopes that this will disappear forever in the sock drawer of the internet, but another part of me hopes for some kind blanket denial from the Mavs, Howard, and all other possible parties involved. I was ready to wish Howard well and move on to a future of Caron Butler and Brendan Haywood, but doesn’t a reveal like this make you wonder just how many times something like this was an issue?