What the Hell, Dwight?

Disclaimer: Neither Dwight Howard nor the Washington Wizards have released official statements regarding this situation and nothing has been 100% confirmed. This is the link to the original thread: https://twitter.com/MasinElije/status/1066522890865131520

After arriving back to school Saturday night, I opened my laptop and decided to see what was happening on NBA Reddit. The first post I saw said something about Dwight Howard being exposed for sexual harassment. I clicked on it not entirely sure what to expect, but what unfolded was beyond imagination. As I scrolled through the thread, it became apparent that Dwight Howard wasn't a former top player in the NBA and future Hall of Famer, but rather a bad person. It was disheartening as a fan who loved Howard during his Magic tenure, but I'm glad that it was brought to light. If these allegations are discovered to be absolutely true, and there's a lot of evidence indicating that they are, the legacy behind Howard's career will change from that of a on-court villain to a real-life monster.

It seems like forever ago, but Dwight Howard used to be one of the best players in the NBA. For about an eight year stretch (2007-14), Howard was a dominant force, swatting shots like volleyballs and dunking with no remorse for the rim or other players in his path. He's an eight-time All Star (2007-14), three-time Defensive Player of the Year (2009-11), five-time All-NBA First Team center (2008-12), and four-time All-Defensive First Team selection (2009-12). Howard was even able to guide the Orlando Magic to the Finals in 2009, beating the Celtics' Big Three and the first-stint LeBron Cavs along the way. They would eventually fall to the Kobe Bryant-led Lakers in five games, but at the time it cemented Dwight as not only a top big man in the league, but a top overall player. Three years later, tensions between Dwight and head coach Stan Van Gundy boiled over and Howard was traded to the Lakers in the summer of 2012. After injuries and the inability to coexist with Kobe, Howard joined the Houston Rockets as a free agent in summer 2013, teaming up with emerging superstar James Harden. Howard continued to play at a high level and was an All Star in 2013 and 2014. There were reports of a divided locker room, split between Harden and Howard, signaling that Howard was more likely than not a locker room cancer. Fast forward to this year and Dwight is on his fourth team in four years (Houston, Atlanta Hawks, Charlotte Hornets, and Washington Wizards). He's become a polarizing player, more known for his ability to destroy team chemistry rather than his fun play style and personality.

On Saturday night, everything about Dwight's image changed. Around 7 pm, Howard's alleged ex-boyfriend Masin Elije tweeted a thread accusing Howard of sexually harassing him, exposing him to STDs, and claimed Howard's camp and pastor catfished and threatened him after refusing to sign a NDA. This was the tweet that started the thread:

The tweets that followed were an absolute roller coaster. I'll do my best to summarize, but definitely read the whole thing to get a full grasp of the situation. Elije met Howard at "Wild n Out" and Dwight slid into his DMs shortly after. (Dwight should never return to "Wild n Out" after this incident). The tweets proceeded to accuse Dwight of having some sort of relationship with a transgender prostitute and participating in "transgender sex parties". The anger from Elije was sparked when she heard Dwight would have unprotected sex and then have sex with him, in turn exposing Elije to STDS, including HIV. Understandably, Elije was furious. Dwight is an asshole for exposing Elije to STDs, and could've at least been transparent about what he was doing. Elije was able to back up these tweets with evidence, including DMs and recorded phone calls, and the confrontation with Dwight about his unprotected sex was recorded. The summary of the relationship ended with an eye-opening claim:

So now on top of exposure to STDs, Howard can add an assault threat to the list. After the relationship ended, Elije started getting calls from a private number that he discovered belonged to Howard's pastor, Calvin Simmons. He threatened Elijie, which was recorded, and members of Howard's camp also began to call and say things like "We know where you are", "We just saw the building you walked out of", and "You should probably move". Elije finally decided she'd had enough and put Howard on blast.

Twitter has taken this situation and spit it out in the form of endless jokes about the obvious: Dwight's sexuality. This basically outed Dwight as gay, or at least bisexual, considering he has something like six kids. Twitter has been ruthless so far:

Kobe's nuts are on Dwight's head

This one got me

Dwight already became the butt of a lot of Twitter jokes throughout his path as a journeyman. (I now realize that "butt" was probably the wrong word to use). I'm not sure what happens next. When does Dwight address this? The Wizards have to cut him, right? It should be noted that Elije was involved in a similar incident in 2017 when he accused Playboi Carti of sexual harassment:

There wasn't really any concrete evidence around that accusation, and it should be taken into account as false accusations shouldn't be taken lightly, but there is a lot of stuff on Dwight. Elije claims that he has even more damning evidence that wasn't released, so we'll see what else comes out. If all of this proves to be true, Dwight shouldn't be shamed for the fact that he might be gay, it should be for threatening Elije and getting his camp to go after him as well. It's inexcusable, and Dwight should face whatever punishment comes his way.

I can only wonder how this effects Dwight's legacy. He may have been detrimental to multiple locker rooms and couldn't stick with a team, but he had the stats to get into the Hall. Dwight's a rebounding machine, 14th all-time (13,184) and the leading active rebounder. Three straight Defensive Player of the Year awards is also something historic, and leading the Magic to a Finals should be noted. But these accusations are quite revealing into the person Dwight is, and it'll be interesting to see if voters choose character over stats. This whole thing really came out of nowhere so it's really hard to predict how it's going to play out. What a brutal hit for a Wizards team that was already riddled with problem after problem. Talk about shit hitting the fan.

Note: The first authentic jersey I ever got was an alternate Magic Dwight Howard jersey. I loved it, it was my first non-screen printed Kohl's jersey. It was the real deal. I even had Dwight Howard Adidas basketball shoes, and I loved NBA Live 10 with Dwight on the cover. Oh God, what does this say about me?