One of the footnotes to the NBA Championship won by the Miami Heat’s big three (LeBron James, Dwayne Wade, and Chris Bosh) tonight is that will likely be the only NBA Championship won by a member of University of Michigan’s famous Fab Five. 39 year-old Juwan Howard who was part of the Fab Five is now the only member of that celebrated team to win it all at the NBA level. Everyone else from the Fab Five (Chris Webber, Jalen Rose, Jimmy King, and Ray Jackson) are long since retired, but not Howard. He’s still showing up to work every day, even if he doesn’t get much playing time. He’s more of a player-assistant coach at this point, and will probably end up as a NBA coach when he retires.
Barry Petchesky at Deadspin has a good summary of Howard’s career and comments on what keeps him in the game.
This season, in intensely limited action, Howard put up the best rebound-per-minute figure of his entire career. Most of those came in garbage time, but it’s telling that Howard didn’t let the situation dictate easing off on the pedal. He’s come to the office every single day for two decades, and put in a respectable day’s work. Maybe he’s not the Rock of Gibraltar, but the waves lapping at its base. Steady and inevitable, Juwan Howard toils away on his little section of the court, often unremarked upon, but never unappreciated.
This is about as far from the Fab Five flash as you can get, and yet, this is the one that persevered. He stuck around basketball because he enjoys it and because he was good enough. And now he gets something to show for it, something that seemed inevitable at that string of goodbye press conferences at the Crisler Arena so many years ago.
Juwan Howard championship ring is a fitting reward to a career few have noticed, but one that his peers respect.
Image via Keith Allison