Dwight Howard played a cruel joke on his mother during the NBA offseason.
As one of the top free agents this past summer, the eight-time All-Star had a lot of offers, including one from the Atlanta Hawks.
Howard, who was born and raised in Atlanta, eventually decided to sign three-year, $70.5 million deal with his hometown team, but that’s not what he told his mother initially.
After calling her up to break the news of who he was going to sign with, Howard decided to play a trick on her. Instead of telling her that he was returning home and signing with the Hawks, Howard told his mom that he got the biggest contract of his life from the Utah Jazz.
“I wanted to see her reaction, so I told her, I said, ‘Mom, I got this big contract, $150 million,’” Howard told the Doug Gottlieb Show on Monday. “And she was like, ‘Oh my God, from who?’ I said, ‘Utah Jazz,’ and she started crying. And I said, ‘Mom, sorry. I was just joking. I’m coming home to Atlanta.’ And then she was super happy and my family was super excited.”
Howard isn’t the first person to publicly criticize Utah as a free-agent destination. In 1997, Derek Harper turned down a contract from Utah to play in Orlando.
A year later, Orlando center Rony Seikaly refused to be traded to the Utah Jazz after they offered center Greg Foster, forward Chris Morris and a first-round pick.
On the other end, ex-All-Star forward Josh Howard praised the Jazz fan base.
“A lot of people think Utah is a bad place to play, but hell nah,” Howard told Grantland. “That fan support is so crazy up there. You have a home-court advantage there, a serious one.”
Utah might have the last laugh as the Jazz are not only one of the youngest teams in the NBA but should be one of the top contenders this year in the Western Conference.
Utah hosts Atlanta the day after Thanksgiving and Jazz fans can’t wait to see Rudy Gobert — their newly minted center who recently signed a four-year extension — give Howard some extra stuffing come game time.