Dwight Howard generally may mean well, but he sure does have a knack for putting his foot in his mouth. During a recent interview with the Orlando Sentinel, Howard spoke about his time with the Los Angeles Lakers and with the Orlando Magic, where Howard spent the first eight years of his career.
During the interview, Howard expressed that he was bothered that Orlando issued his former jersey no. 12 to Tobias Harris, who Orlando acquired in a separate trade last season and requested the number as a tribute to a high school friend that passed away from leukemia:
“I just think that despite whatever happened, there was a lot of things that I did and that we did as a team, and that number was special down there,” Howard said. “And I was a little bit upset about that.”
While Howard was indeed an impact player over his eight years in Orlando, most of the stellar play Orlando got from Howard was overshadowed by how he forced the franchise to trade him while he was still in his prime. Yes, Howard was a six-time all-star with the Magic, led Orlando to the NBA finals one year and three-time defensive player of the year, but the team did not win a championship with him. He won no MVP awards. Despite being regarded as the best center in the NBA for a number of years, in essence Howard was a limited player who averaged just 18.4 points in Orlando. And again, he’s only just a year removed from publicly forcing his way out of town. Things like retiring a jersey take some time.
Howard also spoke about his decision to leave Los Angeles after just one season with the Lakers:
“Everybody’s saying I was a ‘coward’ for leaving [the Lakers], and I knew I was going to get that,” Howard said Tuesday. “But I think with the situation I had to do what was best for Dwight.
“I know when I wanted to leave Orlando, and I decided to stay, I wasn’t happy on the inside. I wanted to please everybody else and ended up hurting a lot of people by doing it the way I did. So, this time it’s like I had a second chance.”
Howard has the opportunity to rebuild his tarnished reputation now that he’s with the Houston Rockets and away from the media scrutiny that comes with playing for the Lakers, but with every attempt to justify his feelings for leaving past franchises, the more he sounds like an attention-starved diva. Howard would be best served to avoid discussing the past and focus more on the present. That’s the best way for him to repair his image, not by playing the victim.
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