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When Dwight Howard dunks, does it remind you of "NBA Jam"? If so, you're not the only one who equates Superman with the days of "He's on fire." When Howard throws one down with particular nastiness, he says he can hear his teammates shout "Boomshackalacka!" from the bench.
So it should come as no shock that one of the biggest gamers in the league is the latest athlete to sign with EA Sports, inking a deal to appear on the cover of "NBA Live 10."
"I've always wanted to be on the cover of "NBA Live," so it's a big honor," Howard told me over the phone after Wednesday's practice in Orlando. "I've always played 'NBA Live' since I was a kid, so to be on the cover is a blessing. It's a lot, thinking about where I've come from, to just being on the cover of any sporting game. It's one of the things I've always dreamed of, being on the cover. Like I said, I've been playing this game for the longest time, and me and my boys always talked about it, about one day being on the cover. So now that it happened, it just feels good."
Howard, who also appeared on the cover of "NBA Ballers: Chosen One," credits his teammates' love for video games as one of the things they initially bonded over. Howard and teammates such as Rashard Lewis routinely set up their systems on airplane rides, doing battle in games like "Call of Duty" while flying between cities.
"Every time we get on the plane, we play video games, and that really gave us a chance to know each other. It's not just about basketball," Howard explained. "Most people, when they get on the plane, they go to sleep. When we get on the plane, we have fun. We've got the boom box going, the video games playing, and it's all fun."
Every time we get on the plane, we play video games, and that really gave us a chance to know each other. It's not just about basketball. Most people, when they get on the plane, they go to sleep. When we get on the plane, we have fun. We've got the boom box going, the video games playing, and it's all fun.” -- Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard
When I mentioned the rivalry between Howard's EA Sports brand and competitor 2K Sports (which just signed Kobe Bryant as its spokesman), Howard laughed at how the matchup is being played out in the NBA Finals.
"That's crazy," he says, talking about how the Finals might add more fuel to the already boiling polygonal rivalry. "I just hope they get my muscles and my smile right in Live. That would be the tightest thing in the world, if they get my muscles and my smile right.
"But my homeboys, they're playing Live right now, they're still playing the game and can't wait for the new one. They're so excited about it."
And Howard is especially excited by the simulation of the Finals in "NBA Live 10," a sim that has picked the winner of every game so far and has the Magic coming back to win the series in seven games (with Howard as MVP, of course -- and no, that wasn't in his contract).
"That would be great. As long as we win, that's all that matters to me. I don't care about the awards, I just want that championship trophy," Howard said. "The Lakers don't need any more trophies. They got nine already, so they're good."