Dwight Howard: 'It was a tug of war'
While his long-term future remains uncertain, there is one thing Dwight Howard knows for sure -- even after countless rounds of talks for his services between several teams over many months.
"I don't have any regrets, you know. I think everything happened the way that it was meant to happen," Howard said Saturday in an interview with ESPN The Magazine senior writer Ric Bucher. "I really just wish some of the lies and some of the things being said didn't come out the way it did, you know.
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.” -- Dwight Howard
"But I have an opportunity to do something great here in L.A, and I can't look back and think about everything that's behind me."
It took four teams, 11 other players and five draft picks, but last month the Orlando Magic, the team that drafted Howard out of Southwest Atlanta Christian Academy with the first overall pick in 2004, finally found their trading partner in the Los Angeles Lakers.
It culminated a whirlwind 10 months that seemingly began with an Esquire magazine interview in which a clearly conflicted Howard acknowledged being "stuck in a tough position" -- in a balancing act between the crosshairs of many an NBA GM and a deep loyalty to the Magic franchise and the city of Orlando.
"That's one of the lessons that I learned, you know. I can't make everybody happy," Howard told Bucher, in an interview for ESPN's "Sunday Conversation."
"And 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."
Howard, who began working with a Lakers trainer and physical therapist last week as he continues his rehabilitation from April back surgery, will miss the start of training camp in October and the beginning of the Lakers' preseason schedule before returning.
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When the Howard trade was officially announced last month, Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak didn't seem overly concerned about Howard's injury or rehab.
But Kupchak was not as definitive on Howard signing a long-term deal with the team next year, admitting the Lakers have yet to discuss an extension with him and that they took a gamble that he will re-sign with the team next year after he experiences a season in Los Angeles with teammates such as Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash and Pau Gasol.
"Our feeling was, no matter what anyone says, let's just get him to Los Angeles and we'll take our chances," Kupchak said then. "It's the organization, ownership, the city of Los Angeles, our ability to win games, surrounding Dwight with players that will make it easier for him to play the game and not have to burden a load that's maybe not fair."
Information from ESPNLosAngeles.com's Arash Markazi was used in this report.