Turning the corner to go into Public Enemies on Thursday, I saw him. Dwight Howard and two friends downing Johnny Rockets milk shakes. I have seen him up close in high school and the NBA, but like a seven year old seeing your second grade teacher in the grocery store (So he doesn't always wear his uniform? So my teacher actually leaves my school?), there was just something different about Dwight in street clothes. One that is his jacked right arm weighs more than my body and two he is one young guy. And two, he looked like a regular, young 20 something. It boggles the mind that he might win the MVP next year.
Well, I usually leave celebrities be. I am awkward and knowing they probably don't talk to me, I figure my awkwardness will be compounded exponentially. So I gawk and stare but keep my distance.
My friend is neither awkward or capable of feeling shame. She walked up to Dwight Howard. Calmly told him her friend blogged for the Hawks in a way that made that sound not only important but something Howard should know. Huddling in the quarter, I was almost convinced Dwight should know I was a Hawks blogger.
Well, if Howard was impressed, he is a great actor. But he shook my hand, went out of the way to introduce himself to my wife, and asked my unintimidated, 8 months pregnant friend if she was having a boy or girl. He then left saying nice to meet you.
He was patient, he was hospitable, and he went above and beyond the normal celebrity "hey man" retort. Dwight treated us like real people. It may seem small and dumb and pretty much totally petty, but I have met many an NBA player in Atlanta and your Howard is the most genuine I have ever encountered. If you can be glad Dwight Howard is in a Magic uniform for more than his play on the court, well, that is just bonus. And the fact is you can do that.