- Mike Mazzeo, ESPN Staff Writer
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Howard, who was ultimately dealt to the Los Angeles Lakers, said, "I did want to go to Brooklyn. That's a place where I told the Magic that I really wanted to go," to Stephen A. Smith and Ryan Ruocco on ESPN NewYork 98.7 FM. "[But] I was traded to the Lakers, and I think it was a blessing in disguise.
" I think there's a reason why everything happened the way it happened. So far it's been an unbelievable experience for me. It's like a dream come true."
Howard endured a tumultuous final season with the Orlando Magic in 2011-12. The three-time defensive player of the year demanded a trade to the Nets at the beginning of the season, but the two sides couldn't reach a deal.
Eventually, despite myriad trade rumors all the way up to the trade deadline, Howard stunningly agreed to waive his early-termination option and committed to stay with Orlando through the 2012-13 season. But his "loyalty" to the only franchise he'd ever known was short-lived.
Trade talks between Brooklyn and Orlando intensified once again in the offseason, with Nets general manager Billy King offering Brook Lopez, MarShon Brooks, Kris Humphries and four first-round draft picks to the Magic in exchange for Howard. But after a deal could not be consummated, the Nets elected to move on from their all-in pursuit of Howard, and Orlando GM Rob Hennigan orchestrated a four-team blockbuster trade to send him to Los Angeles.
"The whole year a lot of people were making up a lot of stories about 'This deal is getting close, that deal is getting close to being done,' or whatever, but none of those deals were ever close," Howard said.
"I thought I was going to get traded at the beginning of the year, actually, that's when I asked for it. But everything happened for a reason. I had to go through last year to get to where I'm at today. It's made me a stronger and better person for it. I had to go through the hell and the stormy forecast to come out to a place like this and I'm thankful for it."
Howard was heavily criticized throughout what became known as the "Dwightmare" for seemingly changing his mind often and ultimately trying to please everyone but himself.
"I think a lot of it was people just felt like I was going back and forth with the whole thing," Howard said. "But the business side, people don't understand, when you're doing business you have to be a shark. You have to demand things. If you don't, people will run over you, and that was a lesson that I learned.
" At the end of the day, you can't please everybody. There's gonna be people happy about me staying, there's gonna be people happy about me leaving. I'm over that now. I can't control the way how people feel about me."
"I hate talking about myself, but I think everything that I do for my team on both ends is just being dominant, and I don't think there's anybody that can take that away or do it like I can," Howard said.
Howard reiterated that he should've won a fourth consecutive NBA Defensive Player of the Year award last season.
"I do. I pride myself on defense. Numbers don't lie," he said.
Howard is also upset that the center position is being removed from the All-Star ballot.
"I don't think it's right. I don't think it's fair," Howard said. "They can say that there's not a lot of centers in the NBA, but the truth of the matter is, it's gonna come back around.
"You can't just take it away because that's still a very important position. Everything starts with the center. It might not be the flashiest person on the court. It might not be the person that gets the most points, but that's the person that controls the paint on both ends."
Mike Mazzeo is a regular contributor to ESPNNewYork.com.