If you’ve ever been on an NBA court, then you know you can definitely hear people in the crowd when they yell. Maybe the combination of thousands of these hecklers coupled with playing basketball allows players to block this out, but during breaks in action, it is at least possible that an NBA player can hear your taunts. Case in point, Dwight Howard.

The Magic played in Atlanta yesterday, giving Hawks fans a chance to jeer Orlando’s big man. And jeer they did, to the point that Dwight actually responded. From the AP:

Howard came over to the press table to exchange barbs with a couple of trash-talking fans during a break in the third quarter. “You’re the biggest whiner in the league,” one of them said. “You wanna come out here and play me?” Howard responded. “I’m averaging 33 points a game. Just keep drinking your beer.”

Score one for honesty, as both sides of this tete-a-tete speak the truth. Yes, Dwight’s one of the biggest whiners in the league, if not the whiniest. And Dwight was indeed averaging 33 points a game through three games. A lot of heckles and retorts — “You’re the worst player ever.” “Yeah, well, you have the dumbest face in history.” — are based in hyperbole, but both of these are 100 percent correct and deserve our plaudits. Honesty is the best policy, that’s what I always say.

Plus, you’ve got to give it up for Dwight here. Not only did he handle the taunts with wit and aplomb, he did so without resorting to an impression. That’s a win in my book. In fact, it’s at least the second player-responding-to-heckler victory of the season, which is a pretty interesting trend. If the league’s superstars continue to respond to insults with their own well-reasoned responses, I’m very OK with that. It’s always fun when someone gets put in their place, which is why “You Got Served” did so well at the box office.

Of course, a simple response of “You don’t want to play us, we’d just put you on the free throw line” would have turned the tables right back around. Dwight got lucky.