ORLANDO, Florida: Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard was named the National Basketball Association's Defensive Player of the Year on Tuesday.
The 23-year-old became the youngest player to win the award, after a season that saw him become just the fifth player to lead the league in both blocks and rebounds in the same campaign.
"To be the defensive player of the year at 23 is remarkable," Magic coach Stan Van Gundy said. "To be a great defensive player usually comes later in a career. And he still has so much room for improvement."
Howard is five months younger than Alvin Robertson, who was 23 years and nine months old when he won the award with San Antonio in the 1985-86 season.
Howard received 542 points, including 105 first-place votes from a panel of 119 sports reporters and broadcasters.
Cleveland superstar LeBron James was second with 148 points and Miami's Dwyane Wade was third with 90 points.
Howard led the Magic to 59 wins in the regular season, one shy of the club's best set in 1995-96.
He averaged 13.8 rebounds and 2.9 blocks per game this season.
The only other players to lead the NBA in rebounds and blocks in the same regular season were Bill Walton, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Hakeem Olajuwon and Ben Wallace.
The honor is another achievement in a remarkable season for Howard.
He won Olympic gold as the center of the US men's team at Beijing, passed Wilt Chamberlain as the youngest NBA player to reach the 5,000-rebound mark and became an all-star for the third time.
The Magic trail the Philadelphia 76ers 1-0 in their Eastern Conference first-round playoff series.
(China Daily 04/23/2009 page24)