Dwight Howard is an eight-time All-Star with three Defensive Player of the Year awards to his credit. He has been one of the four highest-paid players in the NBA the past two seasons and his new three-year, $70 million contract with the Atlanta Hawks places him in a similar stratosphere among the game’s highest earner.
Despite all this, Howard said it took a conversation with Hawks part-owner Grant Hill to get him feeling confident again. From ESPN:
“Grant Hill was a big part of the process. For somebody like [Hill] to believe in me, [Hawks general] Wes Wilcox and Bud (Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer) — for all of these guys to have that belief in me just gave me more confidence.
“After the season, I was a little bit down for a couple days,” Howard admitted. He credits the Hawks’ interest when free agency began July 1 to help him start feeling “really good about myself again.”
That’s swell. You know how when you’re feeling down about work, perhaps you open a cold beer or devour a carton of ice cream or some encouraging words from your spouse give you the power to push forward?
For Howard, all it took was $70 million and a pep talk from an NBA great to make one of the league’s most accomplished players feel good again. It’s as if the Hawks smelled weakness from someone that was just dumped and said things like, “Come on, baby. You know you’re great. You don’t deserve this. You’re too good for Houston.”
Howard was asked what bothered him most during his time with the Rockets.
“The one thing that just really I hate to hear with a passion is that I’m a cancer in the locker room and I’m a guy that wants to separate and divide a team,” he responded. “I’ve never been that way my whole life. I’ve always been somebody who wants to bring people together, whether that’s my teammates or that’s the community, families, whatever it may be. Just to hear that word — cancer — it pisses me off, to be honest with you, because that’s not who I am.
“I’ve never been somebody who didn’t care about my teammates, and I’ve never been that way. And to hear ‘cancer,’ to hear ‘diva,’ things like that, that’s not me.”
Atlanta won’t treat like you this, Dwight. They appreciate and value you.