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Dwight Howard says he’s in the best shape of his life, is taking inspiration from how late-career Wilt Chamberlain sacrificed with Lakers

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Dwight Howard drew inspiration from a Lakers legend to get to where he is physically and mentally.

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2019-20 Los Angeles Lakers Media Day Photo by Chris Elise/NBAE via Getty Images

Dwight Howard might not be the All-Star he was during his first stint with the Los Angeles Lakers in 2012, but he’s confident he can make his second opportunity with the team more meaningful by being in the best place he’s ever been mentally and physically.

We’ve already heard a lot about how Howard is attacking this season differently mentally, but at media day, he explained to ESPN LA’s “Mason and Ireland” how he prepared for the season physically:

”I did a 30-day fast... It was really good. It was something that really just tested my mind and my body. Fasting is not easy, and when you only have one meal a day -- especially how I was training -- it’s like, ‘man, what am I doing?’ But it really just helped me get over a lot of mental barriers that were in the way of me getting to where I needed to get to as a person.”

Howard now believes he’s in better shape than he was when he first played for the Lakers, and said that fasting also helped him get stronger mentally. Howard was motivated by his disappointing stint with the Washington Wizards, which was limited to just nine games because of issues with his back:

”Last season. Only being able to play nine games and have the stress of having back surgery, all that stuff, I just promised myself that if I really locked in during the summer, get my body how I want it to be, and it’s here now, so I’m happy about that.”

Howard also said he drew inspiration from Lakers legend Wilt Chamberlain, who was able to be productive for Los Angeles during the later stages of his career.

“That’s my favorite player ... Wilt is my favorite player. I’ve looked up tons of videos on him, I have a Wilt Chamberlain painting in my room ... I was about to get ‘Wilt Chamberlain’ tatted on my arm right here. He’s my favorite player, and he’s one of my favorite people in life. The thing that he did was sacrifice.

“A lot of time it’s hard for us to sacrifice, because we want to be that person, when the only thing that matters is getting another trophy. And when Wilt decided ‘Hey, I’ve done all the scoring, I’ve done all the other stuff, let me just do what this team is asking me to do,’ he had one of the best seasons of his career. He won a championship. I want to have that same approach, and bring out the will inside of me and help this team win.”

Chamberlain won his first championship in 1967, when he averaged 24.1 points on 68.3 percent shooting from the field and 24.2 rebounds per game with the Philadelphia 76ers. When he won his second championship with the Lakers at 35 years old, Chamberlain averaged 14.8 points and 19.2 rebounds.

Howard, 33, probably won’t average 19 rebounds per game, but his head in the right place in terms of accepting a new role in order to maximize his abilities late in his career. We’ll start to see how much of this talk around Howard is legitimate when the Lakers tip off their preseason against the Golden State Warriors on Saturday.

For more Lakers talk, subscribe to the Silver Screen and Roll podcast feed on iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher or Google Podcasts. You can follow this author on Twitter at @RadRivas.