Sunday Conversation: Dwight Howard

September, 16, 2012
9/16/12
12:52
PM PT
Kamenetzky By Brian Kamenetzky
ESPNLosAngeles.com
Archive
Lakers center Dwight Howard joined Ric Bucher for SportsCenter's Sunday Conversation this week.

In a wide-ranging interview, Howard talked about the pain in his back pushing him to surgery, his rehab and recovery, what it means to join the Lakers, and more.

He also addresses the Dwightmare, why things played out the way they did, and the major lesson he learned.
"It was a tug of war between my feelings and the fans and everybody else and their feelings and what happened to LeBron. And I saw him -- everybody hated him for leaving Cleveland and what he did," Howard said of LeBron James' free-agent move from the Cleveland Cavaliers to the Miami Heat in 2010. "I never wanted anybody to hate me, you know. I wanted everybody to love me, you know, like me, for sticking around and doing what they wanted me to do. And making everybody else happy. And that was a valuable lesson for me, you know.

"I can't make everybody happy."

Particularly when the endgame -- moving from one franchise to another -- is impossible for a star player to do without upsetting at least one group of people. No matter what he did, how legitimate his reasons, or how totally within his rights Howard was to try and influence the course of his career, fans in Orlando were going to resent him. Ultimately, he was trying to make an omelette, and never got comfortable with the broken eggs.

The same basic process influenced Howard's thinking about joining the Lakers. He acknowledges reluctance initially about coming to L.A., rooted in concern over what people would think. Was he just trying to parrot Shaq? Why couldn't he strike his own trail? That sort of thing.

Again, he appears to have learned the lesson. "Who cares what people say?" he tells Bucher. "This is my destiny, this is where I want to be."

It'll be interesting to see how Howard's experience in Orlando influences the one waiting for him in Los Angeles, in terms of his contract status and how he handles the inevitable scrutiny coming with it. Ultimately, I believe he'll re-sign with the Lakers at the end of the 2012-13 season, but until he does there will be speculation. There will be reports, true or not, of indecision, of wavering commitment, or interest in other teams - particularly if he or the Lakers struggle.

But if he's genuinely less concerned about what others think about him and his career, this season will definitely be a happier one for him than last.

Take a look below at the short cut of the Sunday Conversation, and we'll get the extended cuts up ASAP.

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TEAM LEADERS

POINTS
Nick Young
PTS AST STL MIN
17.9 1.5 0.7 28.3
OTHER LEADERS
ReboundsP. Gasol 9.7
AssistsK. Marshall 8.8
StealsJ. Meeks 1.4
BlocksP. Gasol 1.5