Dallas Mavericks

Josh Hashanah

Josh Howard isn't a bad guy. So says Josh Howard.

Josh Howard isn’t Jewish. Nonetheless -- on the eve of Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year -- the Maverick’s period of atonement likewise commenced.

The marijuana admissions. The crappy play. The defiant birthday bash. The drag racing. The charity softball game blow-up. The vulgar disrespecting of the national anthem.

All gone? Just like that?

Yes. Just like that. Better late than never, right?

I went down to Monday afternoon’s Mavs’ Media Day at American Airlines Center, and Josh looked like himself again. You could sense it in his body language. See it in his eyes. Hear it not just in his words, but his voice.

“I truly and really am sorry,” Howard says. “That’s not Josh Howard. That was an idiot.”

With a heartfelt, unscripted apology, Howard began erasing five months of shit with 15 minutes of sorrow. Whew. The kid who new coach Rick Carlisle calls “our most important player” just may be salvageable after all.

“I apologize to everybody I’ve offended,” he said. “I‘m upset with myself. I just wasn’t using my head. I just lost focus of who I am.”

It was damage control. It was image repair. It was emotional healing. Most of all, it was necessary. Howard needed to apologize for his immature, irresponsible and reprehensible actions and he did just that. He also promised to return to the aggressive slasher who should benefit from playing with Jason Kidd and help the Mavs be a playoff team.

“I know y’all got tired of me doing only the step-back jumper,” he joked. Did we ever.

Howard – hmm, I think you heard it here first -- said he was “just jokin’ around” when he infamously displayed his horrible star-spangled manners. See, it was momentary lapse in judgment. Not a deep-seeded doctrine.

Doesn’t make it right. But it does make it pardonable.

“I love my country,” he said. “Every game during the anthem I have my hand over my heart. But I learned that words really do hurt and you are held accountable for what you said.”

Howard’s enlightenment came late in the summer during conversations with his mom and grandmother, the woman who raised him in North Carolina. He’s fortunate – and he knows this – that his teammates and owner didn’t give up on him.

“They could have easily said ‘To hell with you’,” he said.


Carlisle: “Josh is a very intelligent guy. He will be very motivated.”

Dirk Nowitzki: “I believe in my hear that Josh is a good guy.”

Kidd: “We all make mistakes.”

Mark Cuban: “If he fucks up again, I’ll kick his ass.”

Josh will be booed mercilessly this season, likely even at AAC. But he’s promised to not let one bad summer totally destroy his bright career.

“I’ve got the biggest block on my shoulder and I plan to knock it off,” he said. “I’m going to let my game do my talking.”

Best idea he’s had in a long time. -- Richie Whitt

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Richie Whitt
Contact: Richie Whitt