In the Washington Wizards’ 62 years in the NBA, they haven’t really been known for their load of centers. Sure they had some impactful big men but they’ve mainly been recognized for their point and shooting guards.
Some notable centers who draped on a Wizards jersey are Brendan Haywood, LeRoy Ellis, Chris Webber and Gheorghe Muresan.
Juwan Howard solidified his legacy as a member of the Washington Wizards
Before entering the NBA, Juwan Howard was known as a member of the Fab Five from the University of Michigan. When he was drafted in 1994, he made himself a household name in Washington D.C.
His draft night didn’t go the way he initially planned. As a matter of fact, Howard was the last first-round selection without a legitimate contract. He was drafted by the Wizards as the fifth overall pick, but they didn’t believe he deserved the contract he desired.
He eventually got officially signed but had to miss the first seven games of the 1994-95 season due to the holdout.
Howard’s first game was groundbreaking for the Home Team Sports Network, which televised the Wizards’ games. He, along with his Fab Five teammate, Chris Webber, played their highly anticipated first game together against the Boston Celtics. Although the Wizards lost, it set a new Wizards TV ratings record for the network.
Howard was an outstanding rookie but it’s safe to say he played his best during the month of February. He averaged 20 points and eight rebounds in the month, earning the Rookie of the Month award. He became the second Wizard to win the award and first since Jeff Ruland won it in January 1982.
The 1995-96 season proved to be the best one of his career.
He had tons of great moments that season but his greatest were during a two-game stretch in April. On Apr. 17, he scored 40 points against the Boston Celtics and then a career-high 42 points against the Toronto Raptors on Apr. 19. Sadly, both resulted in losses for the Wizards. But he became the second Wizard to post back-to-back 40-point games since Bernard King did it.
Obviously, he won the Player of the Month award for his performance in April.
Howard finished the 1995-96 season ranked sixth in the NBA in points scored with 1,789 and 10th in points per game, averaging 22 points. He also became known as a double-double threat, posting 22 double-doubles for the season.
On Aug. 5, he re-signed with the Wizards, a contract worth $105 million over a seven-year span. He became the first player in NBA history to sign a deal worth more than $100 million.
He definitely lived up to his contract.
In the 1996-97 season, he recorded two 30-point games and 24 double-doubles. He did that while dealing with legal troubles (speeding and DUI charges).
Over the next four years, Howard never averaged less than 14 points or five rebounds. His contributions were so great that in the 2000-01 season, he was fourth highest-paid player behind Kevin Garrett, Shaquille O’Neal and Alonzo Mourning.
On Feb. 22, 2001, Howard was traded to the Dallas Mavericks, ending his seven-year run with the Wizards.