- Dave McMenamin, ESPN.com
- 0 Shares
EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- Dwight Howard had a big smile on his face a day after making his debut for the Los Angeles Lakers, but he still feels the sting of how things ended in Orlando when he thinks about his trophy shelf.
Howard was recognized as the best defender in the league as well as the best interior defender when NBA.com announced the results of its annual survey of the league's 30 general managers Monday, but Howard still wants to know why he isn't the reigning Defensive Player of the Year.
"I thought I should have won it last year, to be honest with you," Howard told reporters after practice Monday. "I was a little bit upset about that."
Tyson Chandler of the New York Knicks was named the league's DPOY last season, ending Howard's three-year run as the award winner. Chandler earned 45 first-place votes and 311 total points to take home the trophy.
Oklahoma City's Serge Ibaka was second with 41 first-place votes and 294 points. Howard received just 18 first-place votes and 186 points.
"I felt like I did my job to win it. I also feel like I didn't because of the whole situation," Howard said, referring to the uncertainty surrounding his future with the Magic and the distraction it became. "That played a factor in it."
Asked Tuesday if he had any comment on what Howard had to say, Chandler smiled and said, "No, not at all."
The award was voted on by a panel of 121 sportswriters and broadcasters throughout the United States and Canada.
Howard averaged more rebounds (14.5 to 9.9) and blocks (2.2 to 1.4) per game than Chandler, but played in just 54 games because of his back injury. Chandler, who played in 62 games, was credited for turning around the Knicks' team defense, helping New York rank among the league's best in opponent turnovers per game (17.0, second in the NBA), opponent field goal percentage (44.2 percent, 10th), and opponent scoring (94.7 points per game, 11th).
Howard, who said his "whole body" was sore after filling up the box score with 19 points, 12 rebounds and four blocks in 33 minutes in his first game as a Laker on Sunday, wants to win the award in Los Angeles this season. Michael Cooper is the only Laker to be named Defensive Player of the Year, following the 1986-87 season.
"That's the goal, that's always the goal," Howard said.
Howard is the only player in league history to win the award three years in a row. If he were to win it in 2012-13, he would tie Ben Wallace and Dikembe Mutombo for the most DPOY awards in a career, with four.
Defensive-minded Lakers coach Mike Brown described what makes Howard so effective on defense.
"First of all, his intelligence," Brown said. "Second of all, his willingness to defend. And then you combine those two things with his size, his strength, his athleticism, his versatility, agility, his power, explosiveness ... I mean, all those things that you nor I have. All those things coupled with the intelligence and the will and the want to be a great defender at that size makes him that. I mean, you think of Bill Russell -- someone that can dominate the game or change the game on that end of the floor. He can set the set the table defensively for your team like (Steve) Nash can do it offensively for your team."
Howard said he is looking forward to adding his defensive ingredients to the new group of players assembled in L.A.
"I'm happy now," Howard said. "This year I get an opportunity to lead these guys on the defensive end and make those guys better defenders and also make them have more confidence in the team defense."
Ian Begley of ESPNNewYork.com contributed to this report.
13hEthan Sherwood Strauss
12hArash Markazi and Ben Alamar
2dAlok Pattani, ESPN Stats & Information
2dDan Le Batard