NBA Defensive Player of the Year Goes to Dwight Howard
On Tuesday, Dwight Howard, celebrated center for the Orlando Magic, was given the honor of the National Basketball Association's Defensive Player of the Year.
The 23-year-old Atlanta native became the youngest player to receive the award, on the back of a season where he became the fifth player to lead the league in both blocks and rebounds.
Alvin Robertson, who was 23 and nine months when he got the award playing for the San Antonio Spurs in the 1985-86 season, was five months older than Howard at the time.
"To be the defensive player of the year at 23 is remarkable," said Magic coach Stan Van Gundy. "To be a great defensive player usually comes later in a career. And he still has so much room for improvement."
Howard got 542 points, including 105 first-place votes from a prestigious panel of 119 sports reporters and broadcasters.
Cleveland force of nature LeBron James came second with 148 points while Miami's Dwyane Wade came third with 90 points.
Howard helped the Magic win 59 games in the regular season, just one less than the club's best set in 1995-96, and averaged 13.8 rebounds and 2.9 blocks per game. Just that accomplishment puts him in illustrious company as the only other players to lead the NBA in rebounds and blocks during the regular season were Bill Walton, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Hakeem Olajuwon and Ben Wallace.
To say Howard is on a roll is a spectacular understatement as he also won Olympic gold in Beijing as the center of the US men's team, passed Wilt Chamberlain as the youngest NBA player to hit the 5,000-rebound mark, and became an All-Star for the third time.