Last August, the Los Angeles Lakers landed Dwight Howard in a blockbuster trade that involved the Philadelphia 76ers and Denver Nuggets. After back surgery last April, some worried the 26-year-old center might lose a step but Howard is proving them wrong, averaging 17.9 points and 10.5 rebounds per game.
But it would appear as though Howard still needs to work on his jump shot.
On Tuesday, Bailey – the Los Angeles Kings’ mascot – showed up to the Lakers’ practice facility along with Major League Soccer’s Philip F. Anschutz Trophy, which will be awarded after Sunday’s MLS Cup Final between the Los Angeles Galaxy and the Houston Dynamo. When practice was over, Bailey challenged Howard to a free-throw contest on a side court – and the stuffed lion won convincingly. Bailey’s win might have been luck, but either way, it shouldn’t exactly come as a shock to those of you that have followed Howard’s career.
The 6-foot-11, 265 pound former first overall pick shot 67 percent from the line in his rookie year and it’s gone down ever since. Howard is a career 59 percent free-throw shooter but is having a an even tougher time sinking free buckets this year, shooting just 48 percent from the line.
But the competition didn’t end after Bailey’s win.
Howard said that the contest didn’t count unless it was on the main court, at which point Bailey beat him for a second time. The six-time All-Star decided to up the ante and moved the contest to the NBA 3-point line. Surely, he wouldn’t lose to a 5-foot-10 man in a lion costume from behind the arc, right?
Once again, the mascot won – and Howard was ready with yet another excuse. He claimed that he wasn’t trying, but rather losing simply to help Bailey feel better about himself. So, the guy that dressed like Superman and had an ego the size of Orlando is now all of a sudden worried about a mascot?
That night – in a 79-77 loss to the Indiana Pacers – Howard scored 17 points but went just 3 for 12 from the line. It looks like Bailey might just be able to add psyching out Dwight Howard to his list of accomplishments that include hoisting the Stanley Cup.
Photo Credit: Getty