The Miami Heat made some coaching changes last Saturday that aren’t surprising at all. Erik Spoelstra’s contract got extended, so he’ll be with the Heat for a very long time says Heat owner Pat Riley. Additionally, Chicago native Juwan Howard (age 40) was promoted from being a player to an assistant coach for the Heat.
This isn’t surprising to me considering the reputation, class, and leadership Howard has shown during his long career in the league. Juwan is a veteran and is respected among players and the Miami Heat organization. No official announcement for retirement was made, but this move is a way to say that his 19-year career has come to an end. 19 years is a long time and Howard deserves this opportunity.
As far as Howard’s NBA career, standing at 6-foot-9 he averaged 13.4 points and 6.1 rebounds. Howard was drafted No.5 in the 1994 draft by the Washington Bullets. Howard played for several other teams including the Dallas Mavericks, Denver Nuggets, Orlando Magic, Houston Rockets, Portland Trailblazers, and of course the Miami Heat where he won his first NBA title. Although he didn’t play in any of the playoff games, his presence was valued due to the leadership he brought in the locker room.
Howard appeared in 1,173 regular season games (898 starts) while shooting 47 percent from the floor and 76.4 percent from the foul line. He was a one-time All-Star; has scored in double figures 798 times, including 332 games with at least 20 points, had 26 games with 30 or more points, and a pair of 40 point games. He also has posted 190 double-doubles. His longest stretch of consecutive games played is 211. Howard also had 189 multi-steal games and 45 multi-block games. Earning more than $151 million in salary during his career, you can say he has done well for himself.
Besides his career in the NBA, Howard is best known for being part of the University of Michigan’s “Fab Five.” The “Fab Five” consisted of Chris Webber, Jalen Rose, Jimmy King and Ray Jackson. They advanced to the NCAA title games in 1992 and 1993 and after spending 3 seasons with the Wolverines, Howard entered the draft. Howard had a successful college career despite losing those two national championships, and went on to have a solid NBA career.
He isn’t a big time athlete, or a Hall of Famer, but he will be remembered for being a great teammate and leader. He went out in style by being a part of a back to back championship team and not officially having to retire, but basically getting promoted. I respect Howard and the Heat is a great organization for Howard to flourish as a coach, especially under the leadership of Spoelstra and Riley. Maybe after his time with the Heat, he could get a head coaching job in college, or the NBA, to continue his great career in the industry and the sport of basketball.