Maverick fans are fervent in their defense of Dirk Nowitzki, typically merciless in their examinations of Jason Terry’s weaknesses, and frequently enraged at the idea that J.J. Barea could take even a minute of playing time away from Rodrigue Beaubois. There are charged responses abound regarding a number of Dallas players, and yet no Maverick — not even Nowitzki — could trump the emotional pull of Josh Howard. Josh simply had a hold of the Dallas fan base in ways that are difficult to describe or fully understand, and from Draft day, 2003 to his eventual exile, Howard took the Maverick faithful on a hell of a ride. It wasn’t just to the NBA Finals and back; a portrait of Josh Howard the Mav would be properly painted in shades of gray, the same shades he wore so well through every stellar game, every off-court incident, and every questionable decision.
He didn’t need hijinks to be polarizing. Howard did that all on his own.
Zac Crain did a terrific job of capturing what it was that made Josh Howard Josh Howard over on FreeDarko last week, and that piece, like so many other thoughts and views of Howard, has been doing laps inside my skull. The fact that Crain used Mike Finley as a mechanism with which to view and understand Howard is even more confounding to me, as I’ve long considered Finley to be one of the more deeply flawed yet still sympathetic figures in Mavericks lore.
All of this is to say that Josh Howard throws me for a bit of a loop. I’m not entirely sure how to make sense of his time in Dallas (his inclusion on lists of the all-time Mavericks seems so wrong and about right), but I’m glad that Crain can.