WATCH: Dwight Howard performs tribute to Kobe Bryant in dunk contest

Dwight Howard
Feb 15, 2020; Chicago, Illinois, USA; Los Angeles Lakers player Dwight Howard in the slam dunk contest during NBA All Star Saturday Night at United Center. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports

Dwight Howard was unable to get out of the first round of the 2020 NBA Dunk Contest on Saturday but that didn’t mean that the night wasn’t memorable. The Los Angeles Lakers center made his return to the annual competition for the first time since 2009, performing with the same level of showmanship from his four previous performances.

Howard started off his night with a 270-degree hammer with a big pose (and bigger smile) that earned him a 41, the lowest score of the night.

Howard followed that up with a tribute to Lakers legend and former teammate Kobe Bryant which he had hinted at before. Howard first had former Orlando Magic teammate Jameer Nelson come out to put on a Superman cape in a nod to his 2008 dunk contest win. He then put a number 24 sticker on the Superman patch on his shirt behind his jersey and showed a Kobe-signed basketball to the camera before having Nelson throw him a lob over the backboard and throwing down a big slam on the first attempt. The tribute and dunk earned him a 49 from the judges (Chadwick Boseman was the only one to give him a 9) before his night was finished.

According to ESPN’s Nick DePaula, Howard even chose to dunk in Kobe sneakers despite having a six-figure shoe deal before the contest on the table:

According to the LA Times’ Tania Ganguli, Bryant had agreed to be the one to bring out the cape for Howard.

Regardless of the results, Dwight put on a wonderful show for everyone watching. After setting the goal to appear in the dunk contest over the summer, he did not disappoint.

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