Dwight Howard found himself in a sticky situation last night during the Houston Rockets’ 109-97 loss to the Atlanta Hawks.
Late in the first quarter, Hawks forward Paul Millsap stepped to the line for two free throws. After he drained the first one, Dwight Howard checked into the game. Howard then touched the basketball before the official returned it to Millsap for his second free throw, and Millsap immediately realized that something felt different. Watch the scene play out here:
“I’ve never felt the ball like that, ever,” Millsap later told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “It was sticky. It was like super glue or something was on there. I couldn’t get it off my hands. It was the weirdest thing ever.”
It doesn’t take the world’s greatest detective to deduce that Howard was the culprit. He was actually spotted before he checked in applying spray to his hands from a can covered with white tape. In the above video, Rockets interim head coach J.B. Bickerstaff can be seen grabbing two spray cans off the scorer’s table. After the incident, official Monty McCuthen issued a warning to both teams. He was heard saying, “Stickum is illegal in the NBA.” No penalty was enforced and there were no similar incidents during the remainder of the game.
After the game, Howard revealed that he’s been using a stickum-type substance for years. “I’ve been using it for the last five years,” the big man told the Houston Chronicle. “It hasn’t been a problem. I don’t know why people are making a big deal out of it. I do it every game. It’s not a big deal. I ain’t even tripping.”
Stickum has been a bigger issue in the NFL than the NBA, but it could presumably give an advantage to a player like Howard. Much of his game involves catching the ball close to the hoop and pulling down tough rebounds, so extra grip power could go a long way. Though sticky hands could affect your shooting touch, 66.4% of Howard’s field goal attempts this season have come within 3 feet of the basket. If there’s one NBA player with the most to gain from using Stickum, it’s arguably Dwight Howard.
The league has stated it will be reviewing the issue.
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