Once an All-Star and All-Defensive team staple, Dwight Howard has played for five different teams in the last five years, including the Los Angeles Lakers this season. Howard signed with the Lakers for the veteran’s minimum last summer after being released by the Memphis Grizzlies. It was the first time Howard had ever signed a veteran’s minimum contract.
Since then, Howard has been devoted to rebuilding his reputation both on and off the court, and in an interview with Mike Trudell of Lakers.com, Howard talked about what inspired him to make changes in his life:
“After I had my back surgery, the last one, I promised myself that I would change my life,” Howard replied. “I was going to do whatever it’s going to take to heal myself physically, mentally and spiritually. I spent that summer doing that and before the season, I promised to give my teammates energy, all of me, every single night. I came into the season thinking that if I gave my teammates myself, all of me, no matter what the situation is, what happens, how many points I score, how many rebounds I get, I think that I’ll have the best time of my life and just enjoy that moment.
To Howard’s credit, he held up his end of the bargain with the Lakers. Through 62 games this season, Howard has averaged 18 points and 13 rebounds per 36 minutes, which are his highest averages per 36 minutes since the 2014-15 season. He also has the second-highest field goal percentage (73.2%) among players that have attempted at least 100 field goals this season. Mitchell Robinson (74.2%) is ranked first.
Unfortunately, Howard’s comeback story came to an abrupt stop in March, when the NBA indefinitely suspended its season due to the coronavirus pandemic in the United States. While the expectation is that the season will resume eventually, Howard said that he was happy with the way things were going:
“The season started and I was like, man, this is a really good feeling. We’re winning. We had different obstacles come up like the stuff that was happening in China, and then obviously the Kobe situation, and then with the coronavirus. It’s kind of like man, it seemed like this is it. All of the things that I had talked about and worked on in myself, I was seeing it come to fruition. It kind of hurt to see everything stop.”
At 34 years old, Howard is in the age range of players that will probably need some extra time to get their bodies back to where they were before the season was suspended, but it sounds like he’s making the most of what he has in and around his Atlanta home.
Howard may not be Superman anymore, but he’s been a key piece of the Lakers’ rotation this season, and with everything that has happened with him over the last few years, it would be really cool to see him win a ring in Los Angeles.
We’re all rooting for you, Dwight.