Now that Dwight Howard has settled his immediate future and is staying in Orlando, the All-Star can settle in on the task at hand, making the Magic and the community better with his work on and off the court. As the smoke clears and the NBA playoffs loom for Howard and the Magic, we caught up with “Superman” to ask him a little more about the Olympics and his off-court priorities, both in business and philanthropy.
You have done a great job of building your brand from what is considered a small market (Orlando). In this day and age can you be as successful as a philanthropist/businessperson in a small market as a big market?
Absolutely. With today’s digital and social networks, small markets and big markets are one in the same. I’m proud of the brand we’ve built thus far, and I know we’ve only scratched the surface. My COO, Kevin Samples, has done a phenomenal job surrounding me with a strong team and great partners – like Mission Athletecare.
Why is social media so important to you as a professional athlete? Are there guidelines you use when engaging with fans or the public?
It’s the new frontier in media, and social media is changing the landscape for how we interact with one another. As a professional athlete in today’s cluttered multi-media environment, it’s important to keep in contact with your fans and do it in an authentic and genuine way. I like hearing from my fans, knowing what they think and taking their feedback – especially as it relates to making an impact in the world, like we do with my charitable work.
This deal with MISSION gives you equity in the company along with others like Carmelo Anthony. Have you talked to other athletes about MISSION and what was their opinion of the brand?
I’m at a stage in my career where being a partner in a company is a lot more interesting than just being a hired gun. Mission gives me an opportunity to be entrepreneurial and help create products designed for athletes, it’s really the best of all worlds. I know I share the same feeling as the other athlete partners, Mission has all the ingredients to become a global brand in the sports world over the next few years.
Have you used their products and what is your opinion of them?
I’ve personally tested a handful of their products, and I’ve been very impressed with their focus on technology and innovation. They invest a ton of time, energy and resources in solving problems athletes face day in and day out, and I’m very excited to be part of the development process. Our first launch will be a game-changer for athletes across a number of sports.
How hands on are you with the brands you work with?
I’m a hands on person, and when I commit to a brand, I’m all in. I’m not interested in just being on the fringe, and when a company comes along and actively solicits my feedback on products development, it’s what gets me more engaged
You must get thousands of offers to represent a brand. What are the things you look for and why did you pick MISSION as one of your partners?
I look for strong leadership, smart technology and most importantly the size of the prize. Mission is specifically targeting the needs of athletes, so if they create a solution that works for me, I’m pretty certain it will work for athletes at all levels of the sport
You have done a great amount of philanthropic work, are their charity platforms you would like to do more with and what are they?
The focus of my D12 Foundation is to allow youth to see their full potential, whether by boosting their confidence, providing access to opportunities for them to succeed or just being a friend. We have big plans for the future.
What does the Olympic experience mean to you, and have you started to think about London at all this summer?
Being chosen to represent the USA is a honor that I don’t take lightly or for granted. The Olympic experience can be described in one word – priceless! At this point, I’m just focused on the NBA season and have not really started to think about London. But I know this Olympic summer will be as amazing an experience as I’ve had in the past and can’t want to make my country proud.