Howard Says He Could Have Sat Until Now

OKLAHOMA CITY – Dwight Howard was roundly criticized for not playing through the pain of a torn labrum in his shoulder earlier in the season. But has the Los Angeles Lakers’ center received fair praise for playing this season from Day One after undergoing back surgery just seven months earlier?

After Wednesday morning’s shootaround in preparation for tonight’s game against the Oklahoma City Thunder (9:30 p.m. ET, TNT), Howard reflected on the surgery and the recovery process.

“Looking back on it I could have sat the whole season until now and started playing now, but I just felt like we have such a great opportunity,” Howard said. “Some of these guys, their windows for winning are very small and I just wanted to get back and try do whatever I can to help this team, knowing that I wasn’t in great shape. My body wasn’t all the way there yet, but I wanted to do whatever I could to help this team win.”

Howard has played in 54 of the Lakers’ 60 games and has averaged 16.1 points and 12.0 rebounds. When he missed games with the shoulder injury, he took criticism for not playing through the pain from all angles, from teammate Kobe Bryant, who would later soften his stance, to TNT analysts Shaquille O’Neal and Charles Barkley.

“Sometimes I have gotten beat up for it, but that’s fine,” Howard said. “I took all those hits and I keep moving. I’ve been doing whatever I can to get back into the shape that I’ve always been into, and it takes a while. The people who watch games, they see me playing so they think that it’s all good, but it’s just a time thing. I’ve got to keep going, keep pushing myself and get better.”

Howard said he’s been told the recovery time from the type of back surgery he had is one year. And in an interesting twist, Howard said he has occasionally texted with former Lakers coach Phil Jackson, who was thought to be on his way back to coach the Lakers when the club fired Mike Brown, and recently told Sports Illustrated that the coach the Lakers hired instead, Mike D’Antoni, has not properly used Howard.

“I’ve asked people who really just helped me out, guys like Phil text me,” Howard said. “He understands how it is to come off back surgery. He just said it takes a full year to recover so you can’t beat yourself up over the things that are happening this year. That’s what I’m trying not to do.”

Howard underwent the surgery last April, which ended his season with the Orlando Magic. He was traded in August to L.A., where he had already been rehabbing his back. He said he was determined to play at the start of the season.

It’s certainly been a rough season, both mentally and physically as the star-studded Lakers fizzled out of the gate under Brown, who was canned after five games. He’s had an icy relationship with Bryant and he quickly became disenchanted with D’Antoni’s offense and his lack of touches on the block.

Things have finally taken a turn for the better over the last month with the Lakers winning 13 of their last 18 games and reaching the .500 mark at 30-30 heading into Wednesday’s measuring stick game against the reigning Western Conference champs.

Howard has looked more agile and explosive in recent games, and he acknowledges that he is only now starting to feel more like himself. He said he’s thought many times throughout the season that he came back too soon, but he said he’s forced those thoughts from his mind.

“I said that plenty of times but I don’t want myself to be thinking so much about what I should have done, what if I would have waited until this time or that time,” Howard said. “I just know the harder I push myself every day to get better every day, to get in shape, my body will respond. And then this summer after the season I get an opportunity to really train and get my body right.”

50 Comments

  1. dj rgm9 says:

    So Lebron has no decent team,he getting last championship with no decent team?Even this year they getting Ray Ray& the bird so he has no help???80% commenting on this blog is pure nonsense especialy those same lame Laker-Kobe haters!
    Put Lebron”best player on the planet” on Wizards or something he w’ont making the play-offs!!!bank this one!

  2. Nash fan says:

    HEY DWIGHT! do NOT make reasons! MAKE IMPROVEMENTS!!! you are an adult! Perform and live with the consequences!!give it your 1000% to get the team to the Playoffs!

  3. miami heat says:

    are you blind THE TRUTH open your eyes i think you don’t know how to play basketball…..

  4. Kobeis the best all around ball player in the league.. 15 all-star appearances in a row with 5 titles.. yeahh get your facts right man

  5. ThaTruth (NOT PAUL PIERCE) says:

    @Lebronheat repeat….Man if Lebron had Howard on his team they would be owning everyone and be above .500 yet he’s owning everyone now without a good center just give the man his 4th MVP when he retires he will be the best to ever play the game with his stats

    I almost shat myself when I read that. He will never be considered the greatest player of all time. You can talk about stats all day long but any lebron fan will leave out the most important ones. Jordan 6-0 all time in nba finals, the man refused to lose once he made it to the big stage. Lebron’s already what 1-2 in that department? Add the fact that he arguably won those 6 rings consecutively because everybody knows that if it wasn’t for his 1.75 year absence to play baseball he would have had 8 in a row and won finals mvp every time. And what about that guy named Bill Russell… 11 championships in 13 seasons. When LeBron starts to dominate the league like that then maybe he will have earned the right to be compared to those guys. As for now, he’s nothing but a choke artist that had to get traded to win a championship.

  6. NyK says:

    As much as he wants it to be, LA is not a good fit for Dwight. I think the right move would be for him to go else where in the summer. I know he’s a free agent in the summer but would a sign and trade make sense? I know everyone’s probably tired of reading trade proposals but here’s one i think makes sense. Dwight to Miami for Chris Bosh and Ray Allen. Lebron and D Wade wouldn’t object because its clear they get frustrated with Bosh at times, Kobe definitely wouldn’t object. Imagine Dwight playing with Lebron, He’d be smiling and wouldn’t have to look over and see Kobe staring at him, Imagine Ray spreading the floor, keeping defenses honest against Kobe and a Nash/Bosh pick and Roll?

  7. Trilla713 says:

    D12 to Houston!!!

  8. One of the king's subject says:

    How easy the laker fans turn on anybody that’s not Kobe so easy. When Howard was acquired you guys were boasting on how the lakers could not be stopped, and now you guys are turning on Dwight like a pack of wolves. The same with Brown and the same with D’Antoni. Loyal fan base

  9. Mr. David says:

    I Dont even want to talk about it bcos im really mad about this man (if you can call him a man cos to me he is a little girl), but i have to express my self. Howard my man you have no actitud, stop crying pu$$y B..ch, be a man, you cant block, you cant score, no free throws WTF. You should be coming from the bench even thought LA is paying a lots of money for your services. I hope you get trade next season LA needs a real man.

  10. Man if Lebron had Howard on his team they would be owning everyone and be above .500 yet he’s owning everyone now without a good center just give the man his 4th MVP when he retires he will be the best to ever play the game with his stats

  11. Howard coward says:

    why howard coward insisted he is a SUPERMAN….common guys….let lakers send howard coward to D-LEAGUE…lol

  12. KR450 says:

    It’s hard to praise or sympathise or even believe anything he says when he’s been such a drama queen the last couple of seasons.

  13. Lol it wouldn’t of made a difference Kobe hogs the ball anyways

  14. Billeh Tubea says:

    Dwight should go back to Orlando Magic.

  15. Ender(ger) says:

    Dropped another brick.Speech is silver, but silence is golden.

  16. Graham says:

    Dwight, please stop talking about your torn labia…you sound like a giant pu$$y everytime you open your mouth. Superman? Come on, you’re not Super and barely a Man.

  17. LOL says:

    Lol Dwight is not going anywhere, He’s gonna sign with the lakers obviously!

  18. Vino Kulafu y Shuktong pamparegla ni kobe 24 says:

    Now they are playing that injury card…. Good one lakers…. kobe injured his elbow??? He knew all along that they won’t win against the Thunders in OKC… But kobe insited that he was injured, But he scored 30 points… from a ball hog point of view… laker fans always protect their kobegod that he was injured… We don’t buy that… DWADE LBJ,DURANT didn’t buy that… Kobe ain’t know for being a WARRIOR.. LBJ does… and for the MOST PART DWADE was a true WARRIOR….
    DWADE Help LBJ and the HEAT Bigtime, despite of his knee injury… He didn’t complain… He kept his silent… I’m just surprised that he needed surgery on his knees… after his surgery He becomes the usual DWADE…. AT this point I got nothing to say to Howard… He’s doing all he can…despite having back surgery… Maybe his point ave. will go up one’s the ball hog gave him the ball….. (D12 becomes focal point) but that won’t happen, too bad

  19. Howard coward says:

    Bryan wasn’t a team player….why bryant not give a chance to others to shoot and to have a name…he love to shoot and he is a ball hogger ..basketball is a team player…trade HOWARD coward……lakers made a big mistake for acquiring howard coward..

  20. sports fan says:

    If Dwight stays with the Lakers they still won’t win a championship, largely due to Kobe. Then Kobe will retire after next year. From that point on Dwight will start to have fun again and that’s when the Lakers will have their best shot of winning another championship. They would then be able to get a lot of young talent to build around Dwight. Not a Lakers fan here but just looking at this from just purely a basketball point of view.

  21. dan says:

    Trade Bryant if you want the Lakers to win!

  22. AirMagicMamba says:

    He could of sat tonight!

  23. Trevor says:

    I think he should keep his mouth shut.

  24. Ohreally!? says:

    Don’t worry Dwight, in april you’ll be having your dream vacation.
    Just watching the Playoffs on television instead of playing.
    Despite the several years of experience in the league you never matured and learn to be a disciplined player.
    What a waste of talent.

  25. Shut up!! says:

    Shut up kingofaces!!!! I hope the Heat go DOWN. What right do have saying Howard should go to Cleveland and you’re not a Cleveland fan!! Lebron James should leave the Heat and go to a bottom feeding team also!!!! Get my drift? Let’s beef up these bottom feeding teams. How about Wade to Charlotte??

  26. kingofaces2895 says:

    I got my money set on Howard going to Cleveland next season. Kyrie Irving is a superstar point guard in his prime, something Howard has never had. Those two would form an absolutely lethal pick and roll combo, and just a really good inside-out combo in general. Not only that, but Cleveland has plenty of young talent, and a lottery pick this season might bring them something nice. After a mediocre shooting start to the season, Dion Waiters has been on fire lately and is looking like he could be a borderline all-star next season. He’s averaging 17.1 ppg on 53.1% shooting, 3.2 apg, and 2.2 rpg in the last 10 games. Waiters is a very athletic two guard who could become an all-star threat on both ends of the court because he has the physical tools to be a terrific NBA defender. I don’t think it’s out of the question to see him put up 18-4-4 on 45+% shooting next season. Kyrie Irving will be a top five player in the NBA by next season. I think he can put up 26 ppg, 6.5 apg, and 4 rpg next season. Now, if Cleveland trades away Anderson Varejao, who has a very high trade value after his outstanding performance this season prior to the injury, for a star level wing, and pick up Howard, they could contend for a playoff spot in the middle of the pack as soon as next season. A team like that would be a championship contender within two seasons. If Howard is smart, he goes to Cleveland.
    By the way, I am not a Cleveland fan. I am a Heat fan, but also a fan of seeing bottom dwellers find success and become playoff contenders.

  27. lakers4everman says:

    Championship calibre players, do not complain or makes excuses about pain or coaches or any other thing. If howard leaves the lakers next year, sure some other team will gladly pick him up, but they would be getting a guy who did NOT win while playing on a franchise that historically wins Championships… Now think about that legacy Howard….!!

  28. Bojeezy says:

    I for one have been dissapointed with how Dwight has played. I know he had back surgery and I commend him for trying to gut it out. Just seeing how he used to play in Orlando baffled me as to why his effort wasn’t always there all the time during games. It felt like we had Bynum still. The way he likes he likes to play around probably irks Kobe and Laker fans. They shouldn’t have been all smiles. This is the LA Lakers, they should feel like they had more of a sense of urgency from the start of the season.

    It would of been great to have him rest until he was 100% or at a place where he can explode more from the block. Plus, it doesn’t seem logical to to use your back as an excuse that you can’t set good picks or roll hard to the basket. I acknowledge that I am not a doctor or know what he is going through physically. I just feel as a fan it just seemed like he wasn’t putting as much effort like he is now. If the Lakers can get into the playoffs. I guess all would be forgiven. He is one of the most dominant centers we have now and we should do well if we have everyone on the same page.

    • Yup says:

      Any rotation of the back (rolling to the basket) or stress on the back (setting picks) can increase the chances of that same disc herniating again. The second time it is herniated, spinal fusion surgery will most likely be the only option available and he will never play the same after that surgery.

  29. IanK says:

    If that’s so, then he shouldn’t have come back so early. It’s his back, for goodness sakes. He can’t be given credit for making such a silly choice.

    If he heeled ahead of schedule, but opted to rest at the begining of the season, perhaps he would have been fully healed by December or January. He’d be playing at 100% rather than 80 or 90%.

  30. Matthew says:

    God notices your pain and suffering whether it’s basketball or daily life. Some of us are rewarded in this life but some of us will be rewarded in the next. Thank Jesus for your sacrifice.

  31. Charles Trist says:

    That’s what you are suppose to do. If you can run, jump, shoot, dunk, rebound while having some pain, you play through it. Just ask your teammate, Mr. Bryant.

    • Strop says:

      Mr Bryant has never had to recover from back surgery.. Has he ever had major surgery? Might be wrong but I can’t recall any.
      And if it is what you are supposed to do, where is Rose? I thought he was running, jumping, shooting, reports of dunking and can currently grab a rebound…

    • Yup says:

      Obviously you’ve never had back surgery for a herniated disc. It’s not just about lower back pain, the fluid from the disc can irritate your sciatic nerve which affects all the muscles in both legs. Besides that, if you don’t wait for a full recovery before returning to normal activities, ESPECIALLY athletic activities, there is a good chance the disc can herniate again which can lead to spinal fusion surgery. If Dwight risks his back too much and has that disc herniate again (once a disc herniates there will always be a weak spot on that disc, it never fully recovers), his entire NBA career will be over with spinal fusion surgery.

    • uoykcuf says:

      Remember the first year when shaq left and the lakers were such a bad team and Byrant sat out 15 games due to injures? Did he play it through? Right.

  32. Howard, what you experienced this year as a member of the Lakers is just the tip of the iceberg. Kobe has at least one more year and you know that he is going to resign after that for sentimental reasons. The Heat are having fun playing together, and so are a lot of other teams in the league. I know that you want to win, but you also want to have fun doing it. Why not find a team that has a good work/play balance. Once you do, everything will fall into place.

  33. Dommy says:

    Good on you Dwight

  34. Hammy says:

    great job dwight!!! your still the man

  35. merryhairyfish says:

    I know I know Im crazy but does anyone else think that just maybe, bear with me, just maybe the Lakers would have done better with D12. Let me explain, the problem with the Lakers was not the talent, or defense, or offense, or the coach, all of it was CHEMISTRY PROBLEMS! Their starting lineup could have been Nash,Kobe,MWP,Clark, and Gasol. This season Gasol is averaging career-lows, but thats only because d12 was the focus

    • uoykcuf says:

      I think you should replace “D12″ with Kobe and it sounds fine. D12, nash, mwp, gasol and clark? Playoffs? no question!

      • uoykcuf is an idiot says:

        are you kidding me…who plays the 2 in the lineup? Kobe has won countless games this season just based off of his will power…you should be banned for this comment

  36. Vino Kulafu y Shuktong pamparegla ni kobe 24 says:

    Early excuse if they loss to OKC???? lol….