Basketball Insiders’ Alex Kennedy and CineSport’s Noah Coslov discuss Dwight Howard’s comments on Inside the NBA, his potential free agency destinations, the possibility of an Orlando reunion and much more in this video.
Last night, after an incredible game between the Oklahoma City Thunder and San Antonio Spurs, viewers who kept watching TNT witnessed a candid interview with Dwight Howard.
The eight-time All-Star was a guest on Inside the NBA and, in addition to providing analysis, he answered tough questions from Charles Barkley and Kenny Smith regarding the Houston Rockets, James Harden, his potential free agency and why he has become of the most hated players in the NBA.
Here were some of the notable quotes from the revealing conversation.
On why he is one of the most hated players in the NBA
Howard: “I think I was very likable in Orlando and the way that situation ended, I think people felt as though I’m just this bad guy, I’m all about myself, I’m a diva, I’m stuck on being Dwight Howard, this ‘famous basketball player.’ So people say, ‘I don’t like that guy.’ And I hear that, and it really hurts me because my heart and my attitude toward the game has always been the same.
“My drive has been there, because I never will forget the day that I came in here and you [Charles Barkley] told me I wasn’t going to be good in the NBA. And I’ll never forget the day Magic Johnson said I wasn’t going to make it to the NBA when I was in the 10th grade. That stuff drives me every day to want to be one of the greatest players to play the game. So that part, to hear people say that, it pisses me off because that’s not who I am. I’ve never been a bad person, and it’s not that I want people to like me, because I know people are not going to always like me, but you know, if you get to know me, I’m laid-back, I love to have fun.”
On the perception that he was disinterested this season with the Rockets
Howard: “I’m always interested in winning. But as a big, you want to feel a part of what’s going on, and you know, if I could bring the ball up the court, shoot threes and go between the legs, do all that stuff, that’d be great. But I have to rely on my teammates in certain aspects to get the ball. Now, there have been times I have been upset and I’ve taken myself out of the game in certain situations, and that’s on me.
“I have to grow, and become a better player. So I’m always interested in the game, and I’ve had the problem with smiling too much or I play too much on the floor, so when I’m not smiling and all that stuff, it looks like I’m not interested in the game. So it’s like a thin line, and I’m like, ‘Man, do I not smile? Or do I smile and have fun?’ So that’s always been a struggle for me personally.”
On whether he and James Harden can co-exist in Houston
Howard: “I think we can. I believe we can. Both of us have to put our egos and our pride to the side. That’s the only way we’re going to win.”
On whether he’s going to opt out and become a free agent this summer
Howard: “I haven’t made any decision. My job is to get in the gym and work my butt off.”
To make this interview even more interesting, earlier today Barkley told Dan Patrick that this therapy session of sorts wasn’t planned. If that’s true, that means Howard didn’t prep these answers and was just speaking from the heart, making the exchange even more real and interesting.
Howard can (and likely will) opt out of the final year ($23,282,457) of his contract with the Rockets, which would make him an unrestricted free agent on July 1.
A number of teams have been linked to Howard, including the New York Knicks, Milwaukee Bucks, Portland Trail Blazers and Charlotte Hornets among others. The Orlando Magic have also been mentioned, although there’s uncertainty on both sides that a reunion makes sense.
Some teams will avoid Howard given his age (30 years), injury history and chemistry issues in Orlando, Los Angeles and Houston.
However, with so many teams having money to spend due to the salary cap spiking to $92 million, he should have a number of options to choose from when he hits the market.
This season, Howard averaged 13.7 points, 11.8 rebounds, 1.6 blocks and one steal while shooting 62 percent from the field. After playing in just 41 games last season due to injuries, he appeared in 71 games for Houston this season.
In the first round of the playoffs against the Golden State Warriors, Howard averaged 13.2 points, 14 rebounds and 1.4 blocks in 36 minutes per game.
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