Dwight Howard has said all of the right things since he made the shocking decision to return to the Lakers last month, but he hasn’t always been so keen on the idea of coming back to Los Angeles for a second stint.
During a recent interview with Shams Charania of The Athletic, Howard said he had an interaction with a fan that wanted to see him back in the purple and gold a few weeks before he signed, and his response to the fan didn’t mirror the message he’s been sending for the last month:
“Never thought it was going to happen. You know, it’s crazy: A couple of weeks before it happened, I was at a fight and a fan was like ‘Hey, you should come back to the Lakers!’ And I was like, ‘Eff no.’ I was like, ‘No.’ And then I’m here and I’m like, man, it’s crazy how everything happened, and everything happens for a reason, so I’m excited. I’m looking forward to it. I just think about, every day, the possibilities that our team, the things we could is crazy and I’m really excited.”
To be fair to Howard, his response was the same response most Lakers fans would have given a month ago if presented with the same proposition. If anything, the fan in this story is in the wrong.
In all seriousness, it’s no secret that Howard hasn’t had the best relationship with Lakers fans since he decided to bolt to the Houston Rockets after just one underwhelming season in Los Angeles. Every trip Howard has made back to Staples Center since then — including Clippers home games — he’s been serenaded with boos, and there’s a good chance he hears the same song on opening night.
However, Howard has the chance to redeem himself this season by being a defensive anchor for the Lakers’ second unit and a force on the offensive and defensive glass. He might not be the superstar he once was, but he can still contribute to a championship-contending team if he accepts a complimentary role.
If Howard helps the Lakers accomplish their ultimate goal this season, there will surely be more fans asking him to come back next summer. If not, it’s back to square one for all parties involved.