New Houston Rockets center Dwight Howard has courted controversy for the last two summers. In the summer of 2012, it was all about what the Magic would do with their malcontent superstar. This past summer, it was where he would go in free agency. He turned down more money to stay with the Lakers and signed with the Rockets. He now feels like an “even bigger villain,” but he’s vowing to change that perception by bringing a title to Houston.
This is typical of the bluster that comes with every NBA training camp. Players talk about all the work they did in the offseason and make lofty predictions for the coming season. While it’s true Howard is still one of the best centers in the game â€” after a lackadaisical 2012-13 campaign with the Lakers, where Howard battled coaches and teammates almost as much as he battled the lingering affects of offseason back surgery â€” most are taking a wait-and-see approach to his signing with Houston.
Howard told Yahoo Sports’ Adrian Wojnarowski, “Last year, I felt like I was the villain. Now, I feel like I’m an even bigger villain.”
Dwight also spoke about the parallels he sees with the Miami Heat’s LeBron James after his “Decision” to flee Cleveland for Miami turned him into an NBA pariah.
“He got hated for a lot of reasons,” Howard told Yahoo. “I was really, really happy when LeBron finally won. I was unhappy that it wasn’t me up there, but I was glad to see him get through that whole thing.
“I knew exactly how he felt. People putting you down, saying bad things about your character, who you are as a person. It doesn’t sit well with you. When you go out on the court, you want to show them, ‘Hey, this isn’t who I am.’
“Here’s a guy who’s a great basketball player. He did something that was for him, and he did it in front of the whole world. I realized then that our issues, our problems, our flaws are out there for the world to see. You can’t run from it. We have to learn from our mistakes and move forward.”
Howard might even be right to make the comparison; the media has pounced on every little nugget of Howard news available [we did last night], similar to the way people looked for any excuse to denigrate James following his sojourn south. But the problem we have with this stems from his belief that the notoriety somehow places him on the same pedestal as James. It doesn’t.
“Me and LeBron, especially dealt with that,” Howard told Yahoo. “Chris [Paul] didn’t get as much as attention as me and LeBron. Every day, people want to know where we’re going. Last year, the year before, it was every day: ‘Come play here. Come here. Where are you going?’ I dealt with that for a whole season.
We’re trying really hard not to call attention to the woe-is-me pity party Howard always seems to be throwing for himself. He’s one of the most talented basketball players in the world, and he’s extremely well compensated while being adored by thousands of fans. Yet, here he is, maligning his lot in life with the intrinsic pressure that comes with being one of the best. That does sound a little like LeBron, the only difference is James finally has a couple rings. So does the guy who will be tutoring Howard this season in Houston.