Here’s what really matters with Juwan Howard

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I almost decided to not write about what happened with Juwan Howard this past weekend. It’s been overblown and way over discussed. However, I did feel like I had something to add.

In case you missed it, following Michigan men’s basketball’s road loss to Wisconsin on Sunday, head coach Juwan Howard and Wisconsin coach Greg Gard got into a heated altercation that ended with Howard slapping a Wisconsin assistant.

Howard was frustrated that Gard called a timeout with the game out of reach and appeared to say “I’ll remember that” in the handshake line. Gard proceeded to grab Howard and then things got physical. Multiple players were suspended for their role in the aftermath and Howard got five games himself.

It was a terrible decision by Howard and one I’m sure he will regret. He’s the leader of young adults and his actions are supposed to be a model for them. It’s his job.

But the reaction from people across the sports world bothered me. Some called for the banning of the handshake line. But if you can’t act respectful for 15 seconds following a game, we have some serious issues.

Yes, Howard should face a punishment, but many people were calling for him to be fired. In my opinion, it’s about how he responds to this incident that really matters.

Does he learn from it? Does he explain to his team how he should have appropriately responded? Does he become a better leader from it?

Humans make mistakes and although he’s a 6-foot-9 celebrity, he’s also a human. Let’s give him a chance to make something positive out of this. He can use this as a teaching moment for his kids. Howard didn’t commit a crime or hit another player. It also didn’t appear that anyone was seriously injured from anything he did.

Earlier this season, Gonzaga coach Mark Few was arrested for driving while intoxicated. It was somewhat of a big deal at the time, but nothing compared to this. The punishment he received proved that, too. He missed just one game, the season opener against Dixie State. What Few did is inexcusable and also a felony. But it seemed that he wasn’t held to the same standard because it wasn’t caught on live television.

It’s obvious that Howard’s actions were wrong. There’s no denying that. But maybe instead of completely calling for an end to his career, we can turn this into a teaching moment to become better leaders.

Max Baker can be reached at max@chathamnr.com and @maxbaker_15.

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