I'm sure that many of you saw the recent Buck Harvey column in which he detailed the striking similarities between Dwight Howard and David Robinson. Both men came into the NBA as great physical specimens and as the overall #1 draft pick, both won an Olympic gold medal and the DPotY award, and both could put up big scoring numbers simply b/c of their athleticism (and despite their lack of great footwork and post-up moves). They're also strong Christians.
Then there is also the negative perception that the Manchild, like the Admiral before him, is too carefree and not nasty enough to win a championship. That perception surfaced again after game 1 of the Finals when Howard only got one field goal in his 35 minutes. A perception that he doesn't have Kobe-like intensity (complete with Kobe's 'Nowitzki' growl). It's the same kind of stuff that David heard pre-TD. But the fact is that Robinson was always passionate about winning, it's just that until 1999 he didn't have the surrounding talent to take him over the top (with the possible exception of 1995, when Dennis Rodman's bizarre behavior caused an excellent team to self-destruct against the Rockets in the WCF). And I believe that Dwight Howard has that same passion as well.
Dwight, like David before him, is very secure in who he is and is not trying to conform to what NBA insiders (or advertisers) want him to be. Dwight, like David before him, possesses an inner strength that fuels him and a quiet confidence that spurs him on, despite the expectations of others. At the team level, it's the same kind of confidence and inner strength that caused a small-market team from South Texas to turn the NBA (and its expectations) upside down when they became successful and won multiple championships with a star-threesome who came from foreign places.
I don't know how this Finals will end up for Howard. Maybe it will be the same kind of losing experience (i.e. LeBron 2007, among many others) that is so often necessary before a superstar can finally climb the victor's stand. Or maybe in the games that remain he will average 28/18 and win the MVP award. But no matter what, I think that he has the kind of inner strength and resolve to be a real difference-maker who will lead his team to a Championship.