Dwight Howard’s Technical is a Sign of the Times

» May 27, 2009 2:58 PM | By Brandon Hoffman

Dwight Howard picked up his sixth technical foul of the playoffs last night for “taunting” Andersen Varejao after powering through an intentional foul late in the fourth quarter, leaving him one technical away from an automatic one-game suspension.

Here’s the play:

Howard addressed the incident on his blog:

Whew!!!!!! Are ya’ll as exhausted as I am after that killer game? That was a gut-check of all gut-check games for us and the Magic came through again? What are they gonna say now?

We’re so, so close to playing for that championship in the Finals, but now is no time to celebrate because really we haven’t done anything yet. We’ve won three games, but you don’t get anything for that. If you think winning last night was hard, t rying to close out the Cavs at The Q will be super hard and we know it. That’s a good team that won 66 games and they aren’t going down without a fight.

Speaking of fighting, how about those tackles that Varejao put on me a couple of times during the game??? And I’m the one who gets the technical foul!!!! I was just playing with emotion. You get in the game and you score a big bucket, you let your emotions take over. I wasn’t taunting Varejao or anything. My thing was, it was a tough play, he grabbed me around the neck and I made the shot, so hopefully they will look at it.

Yahoo! Sports’ Kelly Dwyer took Howard to task for losing his cool:

Dwight Howard’s role is that of the superstar-in-training. He’s still training, because your all-timers don’t make a choice to wheel back and taunt their defeated opponent after using their skills to top them with a superior move. Especially when you’ve accrued five technical fouls in only 15 playoff games prior to this one, and two will knock you out for an entire contest.

Dwyer has a point. Howard’s celebration may have been a little over the top. But with all due respect to KD, who is one of the best basketball writers in the business, the notion that “all-timers” don’t taunt their opponents after big plays isn’t entirely accurate.

Let’s go to the tape:

Jordan landed, took three steps toward Patrick Ewing and Xavier McDaniel, and proceeded to scream and pump his fists at both guys as they fell to the floor. Jordan wasn’t assessed a technical foul on the play, despite the fact that one official was standing right next to Ewing and McDaniel as Jordan began his verbal assault. Not only did Jordan escape unscathed by the officials, but the incident also failed to make The New York Times’ game recap. It was a non-issue.

My, how times have changed. The footage of Jordan standing over Ewing and McDaniel stands as one of the enduring images of his career. It stands as a testament to MJ’s fire and competitiveness. I’ve seen the clip at least 100 times, and it still gives me chills.

Howard was bear hugged from behind, and yet still managed to score on a crucial possession late in the fourth quarter. All things considered, I’d say his celebration was pretty tame. Howard didn’t stand over Varejao for an extended stretch of time like Jordan did. He looked down at the defender who fouled him intentionally, shouted something into the air, flexed once, and walked away.

David Stern and company have gone to great lengths to clean up the physical play that plagued the game in the late 80s and early 90s, but it’s a shame that they’ve decided to call technical or flagrant fouls in crucial situations for things that were ignored during the NBA’s golden years. Playoff basketball is enormously emotional. We shouldn’t be talking about technical fouls or suspensions. We should be celebrating Howard’s strength and intensity.

UPDATE: The NBA has rescinded Howard’s technical.

23 Responses to “Dwight Howard’s Technical is a Sign of the Times”

  1. john amaechi Says:

    maybe you should rescind your blog then.

    in your opinion, who’s been getting the benifit of the calls in each conference finals?

  2. Brandon Hoffman Says:

    I can’t complain about the number of personal fouls called in either series. I think it’s been fairly balanced thus far.

    There’s been a lot of talk about James getting preferential treatment, but I haven’t seen anything out of the ordinary. LeBron gets away with offensive fouls from time to time when he lowers his shoulder into his defender before finishing at the cup, but he very rarely commits fouls on the defensive end.

  3. john amaechi Says:

    what’s your thoughts on the chinese investors buying into the cavs?

    do you think that a kid living in Macau getting ready to buy some Nikes cares if LeGone James plays in Cleveland rather than NYC?

    United States population = 3 million.

    China’s populaton = 1 billion (3 million who play basketball)

    remember having this conversation during the summer olympics?

  4. john amaechi Says:

    make that 300 million,

    and 300 million.

    you get the idea though….

    well you probably don’t. but some people will.

  5. Sensei1 Says:

    Just to add to this conversation I’ll say that the Refs in general need to be fined for all of their inconsistencies and game interuptions.

    They flag Howard for being emotional but don’t say anything for JR Smith dancing in front of the Laker bench. Go figure.

    Brandon I have seldomly disagreed with you but in this case I must. LeBron could probally spit on the Pope and walk away smelling like roses. This guy fouls at will on the offensive end and rarely gets calls. The only reason he doesn’t get more calls on the defensive end is because he doesn’t actually play defense. The man is averaging less than 2 fouls per game. Even the best defensive specialist don’t do that. He get’s away with stuff that KY Jelly couldn’t slip by.

  6. john amaechi Says:


    you must have missed the conversation we had the other day regarding the sam smith lebron hater article.

    lebron averages 1.1 fouls per game for his career.

    go check it at at basketball-reference.com

    why it’s such a shock that he averages 1.6 fouls per game in these playoffs is beyond me.

    try to think outside the box every now and then my friend.

  7. john amaechi Says:

    btw sensei,

    i don’t think that “seldomly” is a word.


  8. KD Says:

    I always thought it was at the basket stanchion. Completely wrong on that one. I even mentioned it in the comments page of today’s post, because I remembered that play specifically.

  9. Sensei1 Says:

    Jon amechi isn’t that the whole point light bulb? Lebron isn’t getting whistled period. I don’t care if his average is .04332 the fact is he isn’t being called for fouls. Watching him play without rose colored glasses on would probaly help you see that “yeah” he does fould more than the 1.6 average you so proudly keep throwing up. Thinking outside the box has nothing to do with commenting on a specific incident or topic. Lebron probaly gets more preferential treatment than any player in the last decade of sports. But Nice usage of a term you probaly just heard on TNT or ESPN. I can’t fault you for that.

  10. Ty Says:

    Wow that John guy sounds like a huge ass… and seems to be antagonizing and confrontational for no reason.

  11. john amaechi Says:




  12. David Hemphill Says:

    I understand that the ref’s cant be perfect but this is been so one sided that someone might have to remind the officials that the Magic are one of the best teams in the NBA and Howard is one of its biggest stars and is very young, meaning that he will be here for some years to come,through the years seeing what they let some people get away with because of their statis and penalize others for no reason and then are able to not be heald accountable for it theirself and if the coach says something to the media he is fined 25 thousand dollars,why dont they penalize the ref’s for bad call’s and supend them because some of what we see is just plain theftand they give their calls out of emotion so why dont they get (ref’s) get supended or even sued for stealling we have the video to prove it all…?

  13. Brandon Hoffman Says:


    LeBron has become a very good defender. He doesn’t reach for steals or foul shooters. He moves his feet and blocks shots from behind. His defensive awareness is off the charts too. He hasn’t made much of a defensive impact versus the Magic, but that’s because he’s been forced to exert so much energy on the offensive end.

    You’re entitled to your opinion of course, but I very rarely see James commit defensive fouls.

    He draws a lot of fouls on the offensive end because he’s always attacking the basket. Sure, he gets the benefit of the doubt from time to time, but he’s a superstar. Those calls come with the territory.

  14. David Hemphill Says:

    And on another note its so plain to see what they have been building up Lebron and Kobe match up, but if they get to that point, who will be the favorite then they are both babied by the Ref’s if these guy’s are the best let them earn it just like everyone else, you (NBA and Officials) made the rules so how about sticking to them then you build a true relationship with the players and fans or you could just go on loving the lies that you have established.

  15. David Hemphill Says:

    oh you mean like when he blocked Howard and came across his arm and head and then in game 3 when howard got all ball so plain to see and lebron shoots 3 free throws and howard shoots none ? Or how about game 2 when Mo hits Dewight in the back with the ball on purpose and no call…?

  16. David Hemphill Says:

    If they didnt baby Lebron and try to handcuff Howard i dont think that Lebron would have all the dunks that he has but if you are within 3 feet of Lebron when he goes to the basket then you better foul him good or its a 3 point play in the Ref’s eyes

  17. David Hemphill Says:

    They just need to resend that techical foul or what they are saying is the Cavs cant beat the Magic so they are trying to manufacture wins for them so obvious, from what i seen so far the cavs should already be on a fishing trip,and lets not forget about the cavs previous series where the whole team is jumping around and laughing at the other teams, how is that not a tech if what Howard done is one or is there a double standard?

  18. Brandon Hoffman Says:


    MJ’s play over X and Ewing was the first thing that went through my mind last night. YouTube confirmed the mental replay.

    Love “Behind the Box Score,” but I think you were a little hard on Howard. He scored a huge basket over one of the league’s biggest antagonizers. Maybe I’m wrong, but I think there are very few players who would have been able to keep their emotions in check in that situation.

  19. David Hemphill Says:

    Hey Brandon, Howard is a superstar to where is his territory its plain and simple they baby some and the rest earn it, we all know if you get to shout 20 to 30 extra shots per game then there would be a whole lot more superstars and the game would take 6 hours that is why they should have a set of rules and follow them,and if Lebron got fouled on purpose like they do Howard tie him up around the neck and pull him to the ground and yet Howard cant even get the call that is the differance, We are just fans and it does not matter what we say but come on.

  20. Brandon Hoffman Says:


    You brought up quite a few missed calls. Hard to argue with any of them. James definitely fouled Howard on one of his “blocks” in Game 1, and Howard’s block on James in Game 3 was clean. Mo should have been hit with a technical for throwing the ball at Dwight too. But on the whole, I think the officiating has been fairly consistent.

  21. I Thomas Says:

    In the YouTube replays, both Dwight Howard and Michael Jordan were angry at the way they were manhandled by their opponents and let them know it. Their gestures were very brief, spontaneous, and “in the heat of the moment”, which doesn’t strike me as taunting. Taunting is belittling and humiliating someone deliberately. In my view, Howard and Jordan were not taunting, but simply letting their opponents know they were not happy with their play. In contrast, JR Smith’s posturing in front of the Lakers’ bench after he made his shots is definitely taunting. I’m glad Howard’s technical foul was rescinded and that Jordan did not receive any penalties for his behavior.

  22. Sensei1 Says:


    James may have indeed become a good defender. He has not however became a less than 2 fould per game defender. For a man that is seemingly involved in more than 75% of the plays of his team there is no way he’s not committing more fouls. Does it really matter though at this point? Probaly not. I said it when the series started – The Cavs were not tested once during the playoffs and as soon as they were they would fail. The Magic are proving that in fine fashion.
    If a team didn’t have to worry about the foul everytime LBJ drove to the cup then he wouldn’t be scoring as much either and these games wouldn’t be coming down to the wire the way that they have.

  23. Mr.Dioneo Says:

    Was taunting even a violation of the rules when Jordan did that? I thought it was a more recent addition.

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