Move over, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Renaldo Major, there's a new king of scoring.
Ron Howard of the Fort Wayne Mad Ants became the NBA Development League's all-time leading scorer Saturday night during a 114-90 victory over the Springfield Armor.
In 35 minutes of action, Howard went for 20 points, giving him 4,261 for his career, eclipsing Major's previous record of 4,252.
"He’s everything that’s right with this team and frankly the league," Mad Ants president Jeff Potter said, per NBADLeague.com.
Howard is playing through his seventh season in the D-League, all of which have been spent with the Mad Ants. He's averaging 17.5 points on 48.2 percent shooting for his career and has established himself as one of the more likable guys to pass through the D-League ranks.
"I wouldn't want another guy to break the record besides Ron," Major told NBADLeague.com. "That's one of my best buds. He deserves it. More than basketball, Ron is a great, high-character guy."
The record itself, though, is a bittersweet accomplishment that can be looked at through a number of different perspectives. On the one hand, you have a seven-year D-League veteran, a mainstay who has never once wavered in his dream of reaching the NBA. On the other, he's spent nearly a decade chasing something he's yet to catch.
Knowing how difficult it was for Howard to get where he is, it's nearly impossible not to see this in a positive light.
According to NBADLeague.com's Anthony Oliva, Howard's professional basketball career almost ceased to exist before it actually began:
Ron Howard’s professional basketball career actually started an hour late and a few dollars short.
At 24 years old, Howard had just about given up the idea of playing basketball for a living until, at the urging of a friend, he attended an open tryout for the Fort Wayne Mad Ants -- then about to enter their inaugural season in 2007-08.
He was an hour late.
Howard was able to place a call to a friend who knew Jeff Potter, the President of the Fort Wayne Mad Ants, and that friend convinced Potter to give Howard a chance.
Then there was still, of course, the matter of money.
"I get there and there’s a fee to try out," Howard said, estimating the cost at $185. "I’m broke. I didn’t have any money. I didn’t come with any money, I barely have gas money. So they allowed me to use a credit card over the phone."
What Howard classified as a "long shot" turned into a productive, fulfilling D-League career.
No, it's not the happy ending most professional ballers seek. The NBA is big time. It's the show. The D-League is supposed to be a stepping stone to that show, not a permanent stop. Indefinite stays are often viewed as disappointments, as failures.
But there is no shame in what Howard is doing.
At 31, he's still pursuing his dream, still, per Ridiculous Upside, crafting and improving his game:
The 31-year-old Howard seems to improve on a year-by-year basis. This season, he's averaged 21 PPG on 48% shooting.— Ridiculous Upside (@RidicUpside) March 30, 2014
Heart exists even outside the NBA. Howard has it, and he continues to have the patience and determination to make a name for himself, even if unconventionally.
"So after that, I went, and the rest is history," he told Oliva. "Fort Wayne drafted me. After that season I signed with the Milwaukee Bucks, almost made the team, and I’ve been able to have a basketball career since then."
Professional basketball careers come in all shapes and sizes. Howard's is a little different, a little less accepted than most. But that doesn't matter.
He's still playing.
This is still a career.
It will continue to be a career, a means to an end, whatever that end may be.
It is, and will continue to be, impressive enough.