Dwight Howard donned a Superman costume to honor Kobe Bryant on Saturday night, and fans are feeling emotional. The NBA player soared over the court in Chicago wearing a bright red cape, with Bryant's number stamped across the symbol on his chest. According to a report by The Los Angeles Times, the stunt was actually supposed to include Bryant before his death.
Howard had planned to involve Bryant in his NBA All-Star dunk on Saturday night, he told reporters. Originally, Bryant was supposed to bring the red cape to Howard in front of the crowd, completing his costume. However, it was still supposed to be a surprise to Bryant when Howard tore off the the Superman symbol on his chest, revealing the the number 24 beneath.
"That was gonna be a lot of fun," Howard said. "I was gonna dedicate it to him, but everything happens for a reason."
Dwight Howard returned to the NBA Dunk Contest for the first time since 2009. He finished in fourth place.
His 2nd dunk saw the return of the Superman cape, with a tribute to Kobe.February 16, 2020
The trounced plans only made the dunk more emotional for many fans, who tuned in to the NBA All-Star game expecting plenty of nods to Bryant. The NBA legend died in a helicopter crash three weeks ago, and it will be a long time before the world of sports is finished mourning.
"Dwight Howard misses Kobe Bryant," observed another.
"Kobe and Gigi loved what you did last night," wrote a third, addressing Howard directly.
Even fans that were not impressed by Howard's performance had to admit that the story of his routine made them misty-eyed.
"I just realised the reason Dwight Howard's Slam Dunk Contest routine was so underwhelming was because he his routine was originally supposed to feature Kobe Bryant helping him out," one of them tweeted.
Howard talked about his complicated past with Bryant in a recent interview on ESPN, explaining how the grief for his former teammate hit him.
"For me, it's super sad because I really wanted to tell him how much I appreciate everything he's done, all the things he's said. Even at the time that we were on the same team, we didn't understand each other," Howard told the outlet. "But I saw a different Kobe, and I even saw a change in myself. And I'm pretty sure he saw it. I just wanted to be able to tell him how I felt about him, and I never got the chance to. That was really the most heartbreaking part. Every day it's been on my mind. It's something that I've just got to deal with, just show the fans in this city that I'm willing to do whatever it takes."