There are many, many better ways to spend one's time than trying to figure out whether a given NBA player would or wouldn't be a cool person to be around. This doesn't stop anyone/everyone from doing it, but it is decidedly a goofy thing to do, because it will decidedly and decisively never matter. You and I will never have to spend time with Dwight Howard, watching him laugh at his own jokes in a Cheesecake Factory VIP section—oh, it exists—or while playing countless yowling shirtless hours of Call of Duty in a vast, air-conditioned manse strewn with iPads and Skittles. Which is probably a good thing, given that Howard gives the impression of being something very like a popular 13-year-old boy—toggling between wild self-enamoration and abject doubt; weepy need and grandiose self-importance; endearing kid-ness and unbearable kid-ness. We are grown-ups and can hang out with grown-ups.
But, in the wake of Howard's trade to Los Angeles on Thursday night—you've probably heard something about it—the contrast of Howard's vast, vain tweenaged-ness and his simultaneously cool and appalling but undeniably cosmopolitan new city became too much to bear. Friend of the program @StraightBangin jumped on the previously anodyne hashtag #DwightInLA and made it something different and much more amusing: a meditation on what this even-more-adolescent-than-average athlete could but will not do in a city that has its own assortment of simultaneous awesomenesses and anti-awesomenesses.
And so, briefly, the internet imagined Dwight Howard driving to Monterey Park with Jonathan Gold to eat at a Yunnan Chinese place without an English language menu, or taking a cokishly aggro meeting with studio chiefs, or going to see No Age and Abe Vigoda at The Smell, or taking the TMZ bus tour. Which is one of the worst things I could wish on anyone, but which is also an amusing enough joke for 1am or so.
#DwightInLA wasn't a supremely viral hashtag experience, but it has stuck with me, at least in the sense that I'm still amused by the periodic updates that pop up. We know, although we of course don't really know, what Dwight Howard will do in Los Angeles: laugh at his own jokes, play videogames, live in a giant home where he never cooks, make sad faces when Kobe yells at him, miss half or so of his free throws and mostly work really hard at basketball. But imagining something funnier and more interesting than that, and funnier and more interesting than the dull Dwight of this world could manage, seems as good a use of Twitter as any. Here are a few of my favorites.