The official 28-man roster for the 2014-16 Team USA Basketball team won’t be released until Thursday, but there were several players that made the cut being leaked on Wednesday night. While the usual suspects like LeBron James made the cut and expected young players like Anthony Davis did as well, there was one player who unquestionably stood out.
According to a report from Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports, Houston Rockets center Dwight Howard will compete in International competition with Team USA, possibly as soon at the 2014 World Cup of Basketball and more than likely in the 2016 Summer Olympics. This is the first time that Howard will have been a part of Team USA in six years.
Given the recent history and public perception of Howard, this couldn’t come at a better time. With the way Howard left the Orlando Magic, handled his time with the Los Angeles Lakers, and—to some people—the way he handled his free agency, Howard saw his perception change from “fun-loving freak athlete” to “prima-donna that can’t shoot free throws.”
While the knock on his foul shooting is warranted, Howard has been a model professional since coming to Houston. He hasn’t been causing a ruckus in the locker room, he’s been performing at a high level, and—in my eyes at least—even his signing with Houston was nothing abnormal for a big-name free agent.
As Howard continues to change this negative perception about him that has come about, representing his country in international play could be huge for him. Not only will he be performing on a big stage against solid competition, but he will also have the chance to continue to act in a professional manner on that stage and dismiss any notions of him being a prima-donna as he buys into the team concept. This is all hypothetical of course, but it’s clear that this is an opportunity for Howard’s image-repair to continue.