While everyone has been focused on the ‘Big 3’ of the Heat and Thunder during these 2012 NBA finals (deservingly so, there have been some true ESPN Classics so far, Westbrook in game 4, Lebron in game 2), I can’t help but notice Juwan Howard riding the pine right into a championship ring.
Let me first say that I have always liked Juwan Howard. During the 1991-92 NCAA men’s basketball season I was just starting to care about basketball and have always had a soft spot for any member of the Fab Five, with the exception of Jimmy King, who I always forget for some reason.
Now, 20 years later after losing to Duke in the NCAA championship, and 19 years after Chris Webber’s ill fated time-out gifted Dean Smith’s North Carolina Tar Heels the victory in the final game, Howard got his ring. It is amazing to think that Howard entered the NBA in the 1994-95 season, and is now, at age 39, in his 18th NBA season. Howard is the only member of the Fab Five to win an NBA championship.
Despite being around for so long, Howard is currently 3rd on the oldest active players list, behind Kurt Thomas (39 years, 260 days) and Grant Hill (39 years, 259 days). For those of you keeping score, the oldest player ever was Nat Hickey, who during the 1947-48 was coaching the Providence Steamrollers and activated himself for one game, during which Hickey attempted 6 shots, missed them all, and committed 5 personal fouls, stats which confirm to me what I have always believed, that I could play in the NBA.
Howard, however, won his first championship last night despite playing just 21 minutes this postseason. Robert Parish, at 43, is the oldest player to have won and NBA championship, working with Michael Jordan to win the 1996-97 finals, but at that point he had already won 3 NBA titles with the Boston Celtics in during the 1980’s.
It appears that the longest wait for an NBA title ended last year, when Jason Kidd, rookie of the year in Howard’s 1994-95 rookie class, won an N.B.A. title with the Dallas Mavericks. Some might argue, and they would be irreproachably correct, that Kidd contributed more to Dallas’ victory than Howard will have contributed towards Miami’s, but the bottom line remains that after 30 or so years of playing ball, Howard finally got his ring this year.
Many other players have tried to join up with championship caliber teams (I’m looking at you Gary Payton and Karl Malone) in order to get that elusive ring but Howard brilliantly saw the writing on the wall when Lebron James, Dwayne Wade, and Chris Bosh came together and will now reap the rewards of a cunning move to land himself an NBA championship. And the best part about that lack of playing time: no need to hit the showers after the game, just get dressed and go out like a champion.
By: Ryan Moore