Howard has nothing but love for Orlando
by Jeff Zillgitt, USA TODAY Sports
ORLANDO – Dwight Howard came to Orlando with talking points and stuck to them Tuesday.
Preparing for his first game against in Orlando against the Magic, his former team, Howard met local, national and Los Angeles –based reporters about seven hours before the Magic and Lakers were scheduled to tip off.
“I’ve said it plenty of times. I have nothing but love for the fans here,” Howard told reporters. “They made me into the player that I am today, and I’ll always be thankful for that. I came here a boy and left a man. It’s made me a better person being here. Thank you to all the fans who supported me even throughout all the bad times.”
Howard focused on what the Magic accomplished in his eight season – four consecutive 50-win seasons, two trips to the Eastern Conference finals and one trip to the NBA Finals – and avoided saying anything that would give fans further fuel for disliking Howard and the manner in which he left Orlando.
“I haven’t been here since my (back) surgery,” Howard said. “I was happy to come back, see my house, go to Waffle House, get a good meal. That was fun. I was happy about that.”
It was a hectic scene with 50 reporters surrounding Howard, who sat on the scorer’s table and answered questions. Before he met with reporters, Howard took shots at one end of the court. He was one of the last Lakers on the court, prompting Lakers guard Steve Nash to shout: “Longest Dwight’s ever worked on his game after practice.”
And of course, it just couldn’t be a normal Q&A with Howard. Lakers forward Metta World Peace barged into the interview.
“I gotta get some TV time. All these cameras,” World Peace said. “Keeping talking to Dwight ya’ll. My Twitter’s @mettaworldpeace. Follow me on Twitter. Follow Dwight. I need a million followers. Keep talking though.”
Howard kept talking.
“Enough TV time,” World Peace said and exited stage right.
Wishy-washy all last season about whether he wanted to remain with the Magic or go elsewhere, the franchise traded their All-Star and three-time defensive player of the year … [For more on Dwight Howard says he has nothing but love for Orlando, click here.]