Dwight Howard on health and reputation
by Sam Amick, USA TODAY Sports
EL SEGUNDO, Calif. – Dwight Howard was sitting down on Friday, which is good considering the topics at hand.
His surgically-repaired back that still isn’t right yet. The Lakers’ defense that’s in need of a heart transplant. The reputation that he’s still trying to repair after the tumultuous path he took to get here.
It made all sorts of sense that Howard stayed seated for this weighty discussion.
While Steve Nash would make his return the following night, the two-time MVP point guard bringing his offensive wizardry back to the Lakers in a 118-115 overtime win at Golden State that was their fourth in a row, Howard’s focus both then and now is on the other end. Entering Saturday night, this Lakers team that features a three-time Defensive Player of the Year (Howard), a nine-time all-defensive first team (Kobe Bryant), and a fellow former Defensive Player of the Year (Metta World Peace) was ranked an inexcusable 15th in defensive rating (102.2 points allowed per 100 possessions).
Howard is well aware that the Lakers’ demise comes with a ripple effect, his name as the best defender in the game dishonored a little more with every hapless defensive effort. For all the silliness that never stops with Howard, he has no shortage of pride. What he doesn’t have and so badly needs, however, is the physical capability to play like the dominant force he’s been for most of eight seasons.
Howard is progressing quickly these days, but he said he’s still feeling the effects of the April surgery to repair a herniated disk. In other words, Dwight Howard still isn’t Dwight Howard just yet.
“I’m still in that process,” Howard said in an extensive interview with USA TODAY Sports at the team’s practice facility. “People don’t understand that. They just come out and see me make a couple dunks and blocks and say, ‘Oh, he’s back.’ But it does take a while for all this stuff to heal. This is not something easy, so I understand that. It will come.”
Just not quickly enough for his or Lakers fans’ liking.
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