Skip to main content

Magic Johnson told Dwight Howard he would never make it to the NBA


You should never meet your heroes. Most of the times, you'll wind up dissappointed. Dwight Howard sure did.

When he was a kid, Dwight looked up to Magic Johnson. Being a basketball fan from the age of three, he idolized the Lakers point guard. Howard would watch Magic's old basketball tapes and try to mimic his moves on the court. And he did all of it, aspiring to one day become an NBA player, just like the one he admired.

But when 15-year-old Howard got the chance to meet Johnson, he felt tricked. Why? Because Magic made it clear Dwight would never make it into the NBA. And just like that, the illusion about his idol was shattered.

He said I was too skinny.

Dwight Howard, ESPN

Scroll to Continue

Recommended Articles

Most people would've felt demoralized after hearing something like that. But not Howard. His childhood hero had just told him he didn't have what it took to take his game to the next level, but the teenage center didn't care. He used it as motivation to work even harder and prove Magic wrong.

Magic inspired me by telling me I wasn't going to make it, that I was too little. I was in 10th grade when he told me I was too skinny to play in the NBA. I said, 'OK, we'll see.'

Dwight Howard, ESPN

Hundreds of workouts later, Howard developed into the most dominant high school force, leading Southwest Atlanta Christian Academy to a state title his senior year. He received the Naismith Prep Player of the Year Award, the McDonald's National High School Player of the Year honor, along with other individual accolades, and was recognized as the best American high school player.

Howard chose to forego college and declared for the '04 NBA Draft, becoming the third high schooler in NBA history to be selected first overall. For almost an entire decade, Howard was one of the most physically impressive superstars in the entire association. He won the DPOY award three times and earned 5x All-Defensive honors along with 8x All-NBA selections.

Not bad for a guy who was too skinny to make it into the NBA.

New York Knicks center Patrick Ewing

"I'm here and I plan to finish my career here" — when Patrick Ewing left the New York Knicks for the Seattle Supersonics

Patrick Ewing hinted at how things played out with him and the Knicks that prompted him to leave the team in 2000.

michael-jordan-luc-longley-min (1)

Luc Longley on Michael Jordan’s only condition to end the Chicago Bulls’ practice sessions

Luc Longley gave us a peek into Michael Jordan's obsession with competition and winning.

Los Angeles Lakers guard Isaiah Thomas

“You're not given a real chance” — Isaiah Thomas breaks down 10-day contracts in the NBA

Former Boston Celtics All-Star Isaiah Thomas opens up about the reality of 10-day contracts in the NBA.

Charlotte Hornets guard Tony Parker

Almost lifers — stars who played their entire career for a single NBA franchise until their last season

As it turns out, all five guys probably would've been better off just retiring as icons of their original teams.

Miami Heat guard Dwayne Wade

“Being able to stay out to 5AM and still score 40” — Dwyane Wade on his favorite memory from the 2006 Miami Heat

Dwyane Wade still couldn't help but be elated whenever he looked back at his 2006 run with the Miami Heat.

Sacramento Kings guards Mike Bibby and Jason Williams

“They were both awesome in their way for our team” — Ex-Sacramento Kings center Scot Pollard compares Mike Bibby and Jason Williams

Former Sacramento Kings center Scot Pollard was asked to appoint the better point guard between Jason Williams and Mike Bibby.

Golden State Warriors head coach Steve Kerr

"I was on morphine at the time" — Steve Kerr got his World Championship Gold Medal while in a daze

Steve Kerr's professional basketball career almost ended before it even started.