Dwight Howard spoke candidly with the Orlando Sentinel in a recent interview. In typical Dwight fashion, some parts of the interview are refreshing and reflective, the others are childishly naive.
Regarding his departures from Orlando and Los Angeles, Howard said the following:
“Everybody’s saying I was a ‘coward’ for leaving [the Lakers], and I knew I was going to get that. 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.
“I said, ‘You know what? People are going to hate me for whatever reason, so I can’t allow that to stop me from making my decision.’ I thought that my decision took a lot of guts because everybody’s saying, ‘How could you leave the Lakers and six billion fans?’ But I don’t care about being an outcast or about being somebody that may look bad. All I’ve got to do is win now, and I’m in the right situation.”
It’s interesting hearing the superstar’s reaction to critics after he has backed himself into a corner. Howard’s reflective objectivity shows that he understands how acrimoniously he left his past two teams.
On the other hand, he breaks into the third person when talking about himself. Even in reflection, his ego bleeds through.
When discussing his time in Orlando and what he misses about the city, Howard resembles a person who made unpopular decisions without, at that time, realizing the ramifications of his choices.
“There were some things that I missed about Orlando. There’s a lot of situations that nobody really knows that I kept on the inside, but there’s some things about Orlando that I missed. I’d say that getting out in the community and doing a lot of stuff that I did, I miss doing that stuff in Orlando and the relationships that I built with a lot of people over there in Orlando. I miss that.
“But I have no regrets. I’m happy everything happened the way it happened. Even though I got hurt in the process and I had to go through a tough time, it made me a better person. I’m more mature now. I know how to handle situations different than I did back then.”
Towards the interview’s end, Howard revealed that he was upset by another Orlando Magic player wearing the number 12 after he departed. It’s an insinuation that his number should’ve been retired immediately.
“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, and I was a little bit upset about that.”
As Sentinel reporter Josh Robbins points out, the player wearing 12, Tobias Harris, dons the number in tribute to a friend felled by leukemia. Robbins also states that Howard probably doesn’t know his backstory, and really, it’s a non-sequitor. The real story is that Howard feels so strongly about his resume, he expects his old jersey sent to the rafters immediately.
Love him or hate him, Dwight Howard is honest. He may be the most open superstar in sports. He shows egotism and humility in every interview he gives. He reveals what makes him great, but also his vulnerabilities. Yes, Dwight Howard has matured, he’s just not yet mature.