After a couple of weeks of debating the athletic value of steroids and marijuana, I was reminded last night that in the end, sports are just games. And games are supposed to be fun.

What did it for me was another edition of the NBA Slam Dunk contest. Actually it was another edition of the irrepressible Dwight Howard. The defending slam dunk champion, is all youthful exuberance, winning personality, and from every appearance an absolutely decent young man. Each time I see him speak and watch him play, he is eloquent about his respect for the game and his enjoyment of it.

Howard is one superstar who seems to really understand his role as both athlete and entertainer. He also appears to understand sportsmanship and that he is truly blessed to be so well-compensated for playing a game. Sure he is human and may have some missteps along the way that will disappoint some of us. But so far so good.

My appreciation of Howard’s sportsmanship was cemented when near the end of the slam dunk contest he graciously agreed to help his final round opponent – Nate Robinson – all 5’9″ tall execute a creative over the top dunk. The 6’11” Howard stood near the basket and allowed Robinson to jump completely over the top of him and dunk the basketball into the hoop. Robinson’s sensational dunk won over the audience of voting judges at home allowing the little man to take home the trophy.

To me the real winner was the happy sportsman Dwight Howard who seemed just as pleased for Nate Robinson as he would have been for himself. He joyfully helped remind us that he was playing a game and was having fun doing it.

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