Last weekend, I was lucky enough to notice that Teen Wolf was on prior to the conclusion of the movie. Scott Howard (portrayed by Michael J. Fox) was at the Spring Dance as The Wolf and attacked Mick McAllister (played by Mark Arnold) who had been bullying him during the entire movie. As he left the scene, it finally dawned on him that people were far more interested in The Wolf’s exploits as opposed to who Scott was as a person.
The following day, Scott decided that his basketball career was over and that he would not play with the Beavers in the Friday night championship game. He eventually changed his mind and showed up for the game towards the end of the first quarter with the crowd chanting for him to morph into The Wolf so that he could lead them to the title.
With the Beavers getting clobbered, he declined to transform, and instead opted to play the game as a regular person. And to top it all off, he gave a speech that was arguably worse and less believable than Michael Jordan’s halftime conversation in the movie Space Jam.
Despite all that, Howard entered the game and immediately empowered his teammates and gave them the confidence to play above their heads. Whether it was rebounding, defending, shot blocking (one dude turned into Bill Russell as he kept rejecting players from behind and starting fast breaks), setting hard screens, passing or scoring, everyone on the team contributed.
The Dragons allowed the Beavers to stay in the game but they made it extremely tough for them. Seriously, if you thought what the Pistons did to Michael Jordan in the late 80’s was bad, you would have been appalled to see what the Dragons did to the Beavers’ star. He was hit by clotheslines and even tackled once while dribbling the ball, and a second time while attempting the game winning shot. I am convinced that the Jordan Rules were born with the movie Teen Wolf.
And yet, with all the pressure that the teenager was facing, he rose to the challenge and carried his team when they needed him most. Scott Howard’s final line for the game:
17 points, 4 assists, 1 steal, 6-for-7 field goal shooting, 1-for-1 3-point field goal shooting and 4-for-4 free throw shooting.
Even more impressive, with no time left on the clock and his team down two points, Howard nailed two free throws to defeat the Dragons and have his team be crowned as the champions.
The irony of course is that the movie was released in 1985 and thus the impression I got was that Scott was supposed to be a teenage version of Larry Bird.
Indeed, he was extremely confident, talked trash, and did everything necessary to lead his team to victory.
Fast forward to 2011 and it’s clear that LeBron James played like The Wolf from the first round of the playoffs all the way to about Game 3 of the NBA Finals. By Game 4 however, it was a version of Scott Howard that was on the court; one that was obviously less talented and less spectacular.
Perhaps LeBron was right last year when he said that he had spoiled us with his play, given the fact that he had played like The Wolf for the entirety of his career.
Mind you, in the last two seasons, the Howard persona has emerged when the stakes were the highest and no one really knows why. One thing is for sure though, in order for LeBron to truly enter the pantheon of greatness, he will have to put his teammates on his back and deliver when all the chip are on the line.
Unlike in Hollywood, this can only happen if the self-proclaimed king accepts the responsibilities that come along with being The Wolf.
The Three Wise Men (Magic, Bird and Jordan) accepted the duties that came along with being The Wolf, and now it’s up to LeBron James to do so. Otherwise, people like me will compare him to Scott Howard instead of the greats that came before him.
Alonzo Harris once said: “To protect the sheep, you gotta catch the wolf, and it takes a wolf to catch a wolf.”
And well, Dirk was a wolf….