Although the NBA is typically considered a North American league, its greatest source of fandom (per capita) likely comes from the relatively small island nation of the Philippines. As detailed in Rafe Bartholomew's terrific book "Pacific Rims," basketball is an essential part of daily life in the Philippines, a cultural mainstay inextricable from the country's public policy and image. When the NBA announced this summer that it would send the Houston Rockets and Indiana Pacers to the Philippines for an exhibition game in October, it was frankly a long time coming. These fans earned this honor long ago.
The Rockets and Pacers are currently enjoying their experience, attending various events and soaking in Filipino culture in advance of their game Thursday (airing on NBA TV at 7:30 AM Eastern). Naturally, the country's basketball fans has welcomed all players and team officials with open arms, treating them like rock stars at every opportunity. It appears to be exactly as fantastic as we all hoped it would be.
However, we were not prepared for the exact level of Filipino commitment to anything NBA-related. At one of the Rockets' public events, Dwight Howard joined rookies Isaiah Canaan and Robert Covington for a little face time. Unfortunately, like many Dwight Howard appearances, it devolved into singing and dancing, all in the name of a questionable definition of comedy.
Watch the first clip above (via PBT), in which Howard sings R. Kelly's classic "I Believe I Can Fly." After the jump, join us for the dancing. If you're into that sort of thing.
Howard fancies himself an entertainer both on and off the court, so it's not terribly surprising that he would think it his right to grace a new audience with a performance that would see him voted off "America's Got Talent" within seconds. Of course, the real problem isn't so much that he's not especially good at it — he's not terrible, especially given the fact that people that size aren't supposed to be coordinated — but that he appears so wonderfully proud of himself for giving the people what he assumes they want.
Luckily for Howard, he appears to have found his audience. The crowd eats up his schtick, to the point where it's difficult to criticize anyone too much. They're having a good, celebratory time and hurting no one. Who are we to judge their fun?