When you are an NBA player, a few things are expected from you apart from balling out on the court. It could be summed up as “No controversy, please.” Many careers end or go downhill when something controversial, as the hero of this story, Josh Howard, knows all too well. Howard had a few off-the-court moments in his career that led to it ending abruptly.
After his high school career ended, Howard committed to Wake Forest, where he had a very productive college career that led to him being selected as the 29th pick in the stacked 2003 NBA Draft. You know, the class with guys like LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Carmelo Anthony, and Chris Bosh.
The competition to stand out was stiff, but Howard managed to earn a spot in the All-NBA second rookie team. Josh wasn’t getting too much playing time at the start of his career. Still, an injury to Marquis Daniels led to Howard jumping into the starting lineup and taking advantage of the opportunity, significantly increasing his numbers. He would become a vital part of the Dallas Mavericks and contribute to making the Finals in 2006, where they eventually lost to the Miami Heat after leading 2-0.
Next year Dallas would come back with a vengeance, finishing the season at the top of the NBA with a 67-15 record. Dirk was selected as the MVP, and Josh Howard solidified his position on the roster, making his first and only All-Star game appearance. But all that would be for nothing, as the Mavs embarrassingly lost the infamous first-round series to the “We Believe” Golden State Warriors. Next season it would be the same, as they were bounced out by the young New Orleans Hornets and Chris Paul.
But what the buzz was about at that time was Josh Howard talking in an interview during that playoff series and openly admitting to smoking marijuana. Those comments caused a significant distraction around the team while battling in a tough playoff series as they went on to be eliminated. In the end, it didn’t stick as a meaningful story, as everyone forgot about that incident.
However, just a few months after that, Howard found himself in trouble again. This time it got a lot more traction in the media and with fans. Back in 2008, a video got leaked on Youtube showing Josh Howard at a charity football game. The National Anthem was playing, and Howard was recorded joking around with his friends, saying he doesn’t care about that, causing mayhem from fans calling him unpatriotic.
The sports media hit him hard as he lost a lot of fans because of that video. Even though Mark Cuban defended Howard, calling him a good guy who just made a mistake, it didn’t stop Howard from getting a negative image with the fans. It would force the organization to trade Howard to the Wizards, where his numerous injuries and downfall started, causing him to eventually retire in 2014.
Even though all the tough injuries he suffered ended his career, it all started with that video getting leaked and Howard becoming a PR problem for any team he was on. All of that led to him leaving Dallas, where he had a comfortable spot and history with the franchise. It’s pretty ironic to see how in 2008, you would get scrutinized and hated for doing something unpatriotic, while today it has become the opposite, and Howard’s actions would go unnoticed in today’s NBA.