Dwight Howard’s goofy personality, oft-ugly post game, and contentious departures from the Orlando Magic and Los Angeles Lakers make it easy to forget that he’s still suffering ill-effects from 2012 back surgery. Recent praise from Houston Rockets teammate Trevor Ariza and franchise player development specialist Hakeem Olajuwon suggested Howard is finally close to full health, though, and the three-time Defensive Player of the Year confirmed that assessment yesterday.
Via Rockets beat writer Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle, Howard says he’s finally approaching bodily comfort of his pre-surgery self. However, he is also quick to note that he feels better better on some days than others.
Asked if he had returned to where he had been before the back problem began in 2012, Howard said, “I’m getting there. It’s a process. Some days I feel really good. There are days where I still feel bad, but all that is changing.
“A lot of the things I’ve been doing and we did during the summer,” Howard said. “Our trainer has done an excellent job here of preparing me every day for the game. Having the bigs that we have has really helped me out because they’re not super tall so they really get to dig in on my back when I’m making those moves, which is good for me and something we worked on all summer.”
It’s a testament to Howard’s rare natural ability that he was able to play at the level he did the past two seasons despite nagging back pain. Dwight’s awesome performance in the first round of the playoffs against the Portland Trail Blazers last spring is even more impressive in that light, too.
Back surgery of any kind is hardly minimally invasive, after all, and even minor injury to that area of the body is especially detrimental to big men. There’s also this disgusting tidbit from Howard’s surgery to consider, courtesy of a 2013 post by Bleacher Report:
“Have you seen the picture of that thing that came out of his back?” asked Metta World Peace, his Lakers’ teammate. “Have you ever seen the picture?”
“What picture? Oh. Yeah you can see it,” Howard said…
“Here, I’ll show it to you though,” he said after thumbing through some photos on his iPhone.
And there it was. Disgusting. It looked like an elongated piece of chicken fat, a yellowish-white mass, laid out next to next to a ruler measuring at approximately five-and-a-half inches.
“Yeah, that was the part on my nerve they had to pull out,” Howard said.
But that at least partially explains Howard’s relatively underwhelming performances in 2012-2013 and 2013-2014. Olajuwon stressed that Howard re-dedicated himself to fitness this summer, and Howard’s optimism about his health indicates such rigorous training paid off. Vintage plays like these from recent preseason games do, too:
Given his exhibition play and new confidence in his health, we’re predicting a major bounce-back campaign from Dwight this season. And should it come, perhaps Howard will finally stop taking such flak for being limited by a surgery that still effects him some 30 months later.
What do you think?
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