A Long Time Ago, We Used to Be Friends

Posted by Rob Mahoney on July 30, 2010 under Commentary | 10 Comments to Read

Josh Howard hasn’t been a Maverick for five months, and he hasn’t been a real contributor to the team for a bit longer. He had supposed attitude problems, frequent injury troubles, a few run-ins with the law, admitted drug usage, turned into a bit of a black hole on offense, scaled down his defensive intensity, and became a questionable locker room influence. Josh’s exit from Dallas was anything but graceful, and yet I can’t help but root for the guy. I hope he succeeds in Washington. I hope he finds what he wants out of his NBA career, and works hard to attain it. I sincerely hope he gets himself back into quasi-All-Star form, and proves everyone who ever doubted him — because of anything on or off the court — horribly, horribly wrong. I want to be wrong about Josh. I really, really do.

I just don’t think I will be.

Howard will likely never live up to what the Mavs wanted him to be, and his persistent injuries will play a big part in that. Still, even if he isn’t an All-Star, Josh can live out his NBA days in peace. He can find a new kind of success with the Wizards, even if it doesn’t quite match up to the promise he showed in the ’05-’06 or ’06-’07 seasons, or hell, even the 2009 playoffs. The flashes are definitely still there, but I fear that Howard has too many mental and physical hurdles to overcome in matching(much less besting) the player he once was. The complexion of his game is just fundamentally different, and while it’s rather difficult to pinpoint the source of that change, it’s what currently defines him as a player.

For Mavs fans, it was never about the admission of marijuana use. It wasn’t about the drag racing incident. It wasn’t about disrespecting the national anthem. It wasn’t about throwing a birthday party during a difficult playoff series. It was about Josh not playing well because he wasn’t playing like himself. It was frustration over one of the most important Mavericks rarely seeing the floor, and sometimes struggling to produce when he did. Mavs fans formed a bond with Josh when his rise coincided with the team’s, and they feared what it meant when he finally regressed.

For $4 million, the Wizards could have done so, so much worse. They needed a good small forward, and they got one. Josh needed a team, and he found one. I wouldn’t go as far as to say that Washington will be his new home, but a new deal and a nearly clean bill of health (Josh won’t be ready for training camp, but should be good to go by October) give Howard something resembling a fresh start. Now it’s on him to make the most of it.

Please, Josh. Prove us all wrong.

  • Kirk Henderson

    I expect tickets to be cheap out here to Wiz games, so I’ll go to at least 3 or 4. I hope he does well, but he never, ever learned how to play with an actual point guard. In college, he was the man, and with the Mavs he was asked only to do what he did well, and during the Mavs slow rise, he did as asked. I still contend not participating with Team USA when he was invited was the worst mistake he made professionally. I think had he seem the commitment to excellence that so many of his 2003 draft class exhibited, not to mention the competition, something great would’ve been brought out of Howard. It worked wonders for Melo, who was, until then, a problem child for the Nuggets. But, what’s past is past. I hope he does well, but people so rarely change.

  • KTV

    Man, you Dallas fans sure have way higher standards than we do here in DC. By comparison with Arenas, Howard has been a straight-up good citizen. In case you missed the brief 4 games he spent with the team on-court, he and Singleton were a welcome breath of fresh air, played unselfishly and with enthusiasm, and mentored our younger guys.

    Sure, Howard’s likely to get bored and revert to type before this season’s over. Big deal. We paid less than $4 mil for him for one year. You’re married to Haywood for a lot longer than that, and though Haywood is a bright and charming guy on-camera, there’s a reason why there wasn’t a single voice raised here clamoring to get him back; he’s well-known for only working hard on contract years. I’ll take Howard–a guy who actually WANTS to be here–over an attitude like that any day. Worry about your own players, is my advice.

  • Jaysen R.

    I thought this was a great article. J-Ho used to be my favorite Mav, or at least second favorite. But over the years I witness his productivity decline slowly. Although he’s gone to royal bluer pastures i still find myself rooting for him too. He showed us so much promise back in the day, I cant believe he’s not a Mav anymore. But every thing happens for a reason…I guess; and maybe one day he’ll be wearing a Dallas uniform. So I guess for now we can wish him luck on his fresh start with the Wizards and maybe we can finally see that J-ho we hoped for years ago.

  • http://na Chris Wilson

    Why the image of Neptune?

  • http://www.TheNBABreakdown.com TheAudman

    Thanks Rob.

    It’s real easy for those of us on the outside to underestimate the importance of mental toughness and the role it can play in helping a player succeed in the NBA. It becomes particularly important when dealing with injuries.

    I truly hope that he can overcome his recent injury woes and put the pieces of his career back together.

  • Tyler Copple

    “a long time ago, we used to be friends” is a line from “We Used to be Friends” by the Dandy Warhols.

    A song which happens to be the introduction (while credits roll) into the television show Veronica Mars.

    The characters in that show live in a fictional town near San Diego, called Neptune CA, and they attend Neptune High.

    It’s absolutely disgusting that I know all of this, and I’m not sure what to think about Rob’s casual usage of it hear.

    • http://www.thetwomangame.com Rob Mahoney

      Good work, Tyler.

  • jf

    i can’t believe you gave him this much credit. dude had zero heart and never recovered after the finals loss. even when he was healthy any scoring sg torched him. He was never gonna have the mental make up to stop anyone or be a aggressive offensive player. THEN he acts like a total a$$hole(you hit the key references) and now its hope for the best? my guess is he’ll play 40 or less games for the Wiz and have about 3 really good games, 17 avg, and 20 no show games. and being in Chocolate City with that many African Americans’s and a team with a culture of losing? he’ll be smokin more blunts than cypress hill on tour. thank god we got rid of that cancer. id rather have matt carroll playing the 2 than him.

  • Lisa Parker

    Absolutely Awesome On Point Article! Thanks Rob Mahoney! J-Ho is still right up there with my faves!

  • Brittneycoates

    josh howard thanks for coming back to the washington wizards because lase season before you got heart you was so tight with them tight player