Around the NBA, Dwight Howard, the Orlando Magic’s 6-11, 270 pound athletic wonder is known to be a character.

His comedic penchant, including hilarious impersonations of coaches, players and other popular figures, along with an engaging personality, has made Howard highly appealing to fans and corporate sponsors alike.

Earlier this season I became a part of Howard’s renowned clowning.

After the Magic had played the Knicks at Madison Square Garden, along with several other reporters, I was in the visitor’s locker room interviewing Rafer “Skip-to-My Lou” Alston. While writing in my notepad I sensed a large presence hovering over my left shoulder.

When I turned around Howard’s eyes were inches from my pad. With a perplexed look on his face, he stared at my notes for a few seconds, which to him were undecipherable, stepped back, and then in a high pitched cartoon voice bellowed, “What is that, hieroglyphics?”

We all cracked up.

Weeks later, things are much more serious for Howard and his Magic teammates now that they find themselves in the Eastern Conference semifinals with 1-0 lead over the Boston Celtics. The Magic have a chance to go back home for Friday’s game with a commanding 2-0 advantage if they can squeeze out another win tonight on the road.

The playoffs are when enduring reputations are forged and players such as Howard grow from being all-stars to all-time greats.

At only 24-years-old, the Atlanta native is indisputably the most dominant inside player in basketball. Going into tonight’s game, his 2009 post-season averages of 22.7 points and 16.8 rebounds says so.

Someday Howard can be included in the same class as Hakeem Olajuwon, Shaquille O’Neal, Tim Duncan and other legendary centers who won titles while being the focal points of their teams.

Or he can be lumped in with Patrick Ewing, who despite being a Hall-of-Famer is considered a notch below Olajuwon, O’Neal, and Duncan simply because he never led the Knicks to a championship.

Like his aforementioned basketball brethren, Howard’s supporting cast will considerably determine his legacy. Ewing, a Magic assistant coach and mentor to Howard, can attest to not having another star by his side during his prime years.

Currently, the Magic has a promising nucleus that consists of Howard, Rashard Lewis, the injured Jameer Nelson and rookie Courtney Lee. But they must upgrade their bench and add both a slashing small forward and physical power forward to complete their roster.

Howard has youth on his side, but time flies in the fluid NBA. And without a title or two on his resume when all is said and done, his superior skills and statistics won’t equate to greatness.