With four players in the top 10 in voting at their positions in the Western Conference, the Los Angeles Lakers figure to be a consistent presence during 2020 NBA All-Star Weekend in Chicago. But while Lakers center Dwight Howard is probably unlikely to make the actual game despite his popularity in the fan vote, it sounds like he should still be expected to take part in one of the marquee events of the weekend: The Dunk Contest.
According to Shams Charania of The Athletic, Howard has already accepted the NBA’s invitation to try for his second-ever Dunk Contest victory:
Los Angeles Lakers center Dwight Howard will participate in the Dunk Contest in Chicago at All-Star weekend, league sources told The Athletic. The NBA has received the commitment of the three-time participant (2007-09), one-time Slam Dunk champion and a potential Hall of Famer to revitalize the energy in this year’s competition.
Charania added that the Lakers “plan to take great cautiousness and care of Howard while he participates in the event in Chicago, understanding his critical role on a championship favorite come the postseason,” so at least it appears they and their 34 year old center will make sure he doesn’t risk injury or over-fatigue while taking part in the extra event during the break in the normal NBA schedule.
And while Howard doesn’t have the same hops he once did, he’s been shockingly springy for the Lakers this season, and shown he can still get up in the air when there are opportunities to do so. He also always displayed tons of creativity in this event, so maybe his dunk contest veteran savvy will propel him to victory despite his declining athleticism.
NBA All-Star Weekend will take place on Feb. 14-16 in Chicago, with the dunk contest happening on Saturday, Feb. 15. So far, only Howard has been reported to be certain to participate, although Memphis Grizzlies rookie sensation Ja Morant is also reportedly considering an invitation from the league.