|Juwan Howard, consummate teammate, carries a cramping LeBron James. (Getty Images)|
He's so old that it's amazing the tear ducts still work. But apparently they do.
Miami Heat forward Juwan Howard -- who at 39 is one of the oldest players in the NBA -- says that he is so moved by LeBron James and his quest for a title that he just might break down in tears if the Heat close out the Oklahoma City Thunder to win the 2012 NBA Finals.
The Palm Beach Post delivers Howard's thoughts:
“Whenever that day happens, I will be so happy for him personally, because he truly deserves it,” Howard said. “He works extremely hard, he's a team guy, he gets a lot of unfair criticism. And until you have walked in his shoes, you don't know what it feels like to deal with all that. And my heart goes out to him, for how he handles it. And I respect him so much for how he handles it. A player of his caliber could be a total a——, but he's the total opposite.”
“I might shed a tear, for him, if that ever happens.”
Howard's reputation as the ultimate teammate is well-established. What's perhaps most amazing here is that Howard himself has never won a ring either. That's right: Howard is 0-for his 18-year NBA career when it comes to bling. Howard has been playing so long he was drafted by the Washington Bullets when they were still the Bullets and not the Wizards (seriously).
His career has seen stops in Washington, Dallas, Denver, Orlando, Houston, Dallas again, Denver again, Charlotte, Portland and now Miami. (Deep breath). Jiminy Christmas. He's been the "wise old vet" in various locker rooms for almost a decade at this point. All those stops, all those years -- not to mention more than $151 million in career salary -- and not one ring.
Not only that, but Howard's "Fab 5" University of Michigan Wolverines went 0-for-2 in NCAA title games. He's spent more than half of his life playing basketball on a national stage and has entered the summer every single year without tasting ultimate glory.
Wanting this for James, given the unprecedented scrutiny he has faced for years, is a noble gesture. But, really, Juwan Howard: you've earned this. Don't cry for James if the Heat win Thursday night. Cry for yourself.