Thursday, April 30, 2009

Tonight at the Center: Dwight Howard as Clark Kent

By Steve Lienert

(The Phanatic Magazine) - Not even the Sixers can blow this chance, right?

I mean, no Dwight Howard, no Courtney Lee… there’s no way the Philly-Orlando series isn’t going back to Florida for a Game 7 this weekend, right?

The 76ers have mostly done a good job in frustrating the young Howard in the series so far, which ultimately manifested itself with a violent elbow in the opening minutes of Game 5.

He’s lived up to his billing as Superman, punctuated by his 24-point, 24-recound performance in Game 5. But Howard still lives in Smallville -- he’s still in his formative years.

Howard’s still learning how use the awesome powers he’s been given. Meanwhile, he acts like an awkward high-school kid wandering down the hallways between classes trying to keep his elbows tucked in so he doesn’t accidentally break the nose some poor, unsuspecting co-ed.

Or, in this case, some poor, unsuspecting starting guard. Lee was the victim of a wayward Howard elbow as well, and he’ll miss Game 6 of a playoff series with a fractured sinus.

Somebody asked ESPN hockey analyst and former NHL coach Barry Melrose if a player he’s ever coached would miss a playoff game with a fractured sinus.

Melrose’s reply? “Their wives wouldn’t miss a playoff game for a fractured sinus.” It’s almost as if Melrose balled his fist in front of his mouth and coughed out the word ‘soft’ (for lack of a better term).

This Superman is just a Superboy, still slamming into buildings while trying to perfect the art of flying.

He blushes when he uses his x-ray vision.

He let some midget in a green “kryptonite” suit dunk over him on national television.

And tonight, during an intriguing Game 6, he’ll be in a suit himself; a nifty, stylish ensemble to be sure. But he won’t be breaking anybody’s nose, or a sweat, until sometime on Friday.

If Howard has the same sense of humor as he did during the Slam Dunk contest in which he was a prop in Nate Robinson’s winning dunk, he’ll sit on the bench with Drew Carey-like glasses adorning his face.

“Tonight at the Wachovia Center: Dwight Howard playing the role of Clark Kent, the Magic’s mild mannered man-child.” There will be no phone booth at the Wachovia center tonight.

So now the only things that stand between the Sixers and a date with a ticked off superhero in Game 7 are Hedo Turkoglu, who seems to have developed a distinct fear of Andre Iguodala, and some guy who seems to be in the country for the Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Pakistan.

I’m interested to see how well Samuel Dalembert will fare against Borat, er, uh, Marcin Gortat, because if he stinks up the joint like he has for the last half of the season, it’s time to end the ‘Sammy Can Play’ project.

For once, the Sixers can defend the perimeter without fear of reprisal in the paint, which should lead to an easy victory over a severely depleted Magic team. On paper, it looks all too easy.

There’s no way they can blow this, right?

Steve Lienert is still mourning the Flyers’ playoff defeat, but he can be reached at

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Unknown said...

Don't be so sure, Stevie. Magic are two and oh when the Polish Hammer starts. He'll double-double and Lewis and Pietrus will pick up the slack. Magic by 4.

Unknown said... does it feel to be completely and totally wrong