Skip to main content

Dwight Howard explains how LeBron James inspired him to be a better player after playing against each other in high school

Dwight Howard should be thankful to LeBron James for setting the standards high and inspiring him to get better even before they entered the NBA.
LeBron James inspired Dwight Howard to get better: "That’s what I gotta get to if I want to be the best player in the nation"

At that time in high school, Howard admitted he was clueless about who James was.

Without LeBron James, there would be no Dwight Howard. Or at least, there would be a different Dwight Howard from the one we know now. The L.A. Lakers big man shared how The King inspired him to get better after losing to James in a high school game.

That’s what I gotta get to if I want to be the best player in the nation

Dwight Howard appeared on the Knuckleheads podcast hosted by Quentin Richardson and Darius Miles and shared a memory of his high school days when LeBron James inspired him to get better even before they entered the NBA.

A high school game featuring a stacked LeBron team with Kendrick Perkins went up against D12’s team. At that time, Howard admitted he was clueless about who James was.

“I didn’t know who he was. I’m at home, and I’m asking my homeboys like, ‘Hey, y’all ever heard of this dude LeBron James? He’s supposed to be like number one.’ And they were like, ‘You finna find out.’ So we go down to Houston and they were warming up. The whole team watching LeBron warm up. First play of the game, he just dunked everything. I said, ‘Okay, that’s LeBron James.”

Scroll to Continue

Recommended Articles

It’s hard to believe D12 had not heard of James back then. The Akron, Ohio native was all over the news and was even on the cover of Sports Illustrated in 2002. The former Orlando Magic center revealed his team lost, but it was a personal win for him because of his lesson after the game.

“We lost the game, but it like amped me up to say, ‘Okay, this is what I gotta get to if I want to be the best player in the nation.’”

Howard stayed true to his word, eventually making the NBA finals at the expense of the man who inspired him to get better. The Orlando Magic defeated the LeBron James-led Cleveland Cavaliers in the 2009 NBA playoffs.

Dwight Howard’s career

James and Howard are now teammates in L.A. Lakers. After D12 played for Orlando, he had stints in Houston Rockets, Atlanta Hawks, Charlotte Hornets, Washington Wizards, and Philadelphia 76ers. He was once on top of the league but dropped off due to injuries and several narratives against him.

Dwight was painted as someone who didn’t care enough. He was seen as a happy-go-lucky who never really pushed himself to achieve his best version. And the stories caught up with him. Despite his illustrious career, Howard never made it to the NBA’s Top 75 players. D12 won the Defensive Player of the Year three times, became a part of All-NBA Teams eight times, an NBA champion, and an 8-time All-Star. But fans quickly forgot these achievements. They remember when Kobe Bryant called him soft in an altercation and his goofy antics on and off the floor.

No matter what other people perceive him to be, the numbers don’t lie. Dwight Howard put up one hell of a career. He deserves to be a part of the NBA’s Top 75 players and even the Hall of Famer someday. And he probably should thank LeBron James for setting the standards high as a high schooler and inspiring him to become better. 

Chicago Bulls guard Michael Jordan goes up against Utah Jazz player Bryon Russell

“There's no 'Jordan rules' when you play 1-on-1“ — Byron Russell claims Michael Jordan 'chickened out' from a 1-on-1 challenge

After being called out by Michael Jordan during his Hall of Fame speech, Bryon Russell hit back and challenged MJ to a 1-on-1 game. According to Russell, Jordan "chickened out."

Lower Merion High School senior Kobe Bryant

Kobe Bryant had a “kill list” of 56 players who were ranked above him in high school

Trust Kobe Bryant to make any rankings lists (that has him as an underdog) look foolish

George-Gervin-1

George Gervin shares his all-time five and snubs Michael Jordan

"The Iceman" shared a great lineup with players from his era, sharing a few surprising choices.

Michael Jordan and Charles Barkley

When Michael Jordan "took things personally" on air against Charles Barkley

Charles Barkley bet against Michael Jordan and paid the price.

Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry

The truth about Stephen Curry’s overlooked defense

In the 2022 playoffs, one could argue that at one point, only Bucks guard Jrue Holiday was a better defender than Steph as Curry held opponents to less than 38% shooting.

San Antonio Spurs forward Dennis Rodman and center David Robinson

“It was like a zoo” — why David Robinson was relieved when Dennis Rodman left the San Antonio Spurs

Dennis Rodman caused a lot of headaches to David Robinson and the San Antonio Spurs.

Orlando Magic guard Gilbert Arenas and Miami Heat forward LeBron James

“He never had that year where he says, ‘Eh, frick everybody. I’m trying to get my stats.’” — Gilbert Arenas salutes LeBron James for never chasing stats

The most impressive part about LeBron's statistical achievements, according to Agent Zero, is that he always sacrificed numbers to increase his chances of winning.