Sports Out West

Dwight Howard left Lakers because it was best for Dwight

Photo Credit: Stephen Dunn / Getty Images

The discussion of Dwight Howard‘s departure from the Los Angeles Lakers appears to be a never ceasing topic as on Tuesday he stated that he left the franchise because it was best for himself, according to Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel.

In his decision to leave the Lakers, Howard knew he would draw plenty of criticism from fans and members of the media but he felt needed to do what was best for his career. The three-time defensive player of the year wanted to make a choice that was his and not make one based on pleasing everyone else like did when he opted into his final year of contract with the Orlando Magic.

“Everybody’s saying I was a ‘coward’ for leaving [the Lakers], and I knew I was going to get that,” Howard said Tuesday. “But I think with the situation I had to do what was best for Dwight.

“I know when I wanted to leave Orlando, and I decided to stay, I wasn’t happy on the inside. I wanted to please everybody else and ended up hurting a lot of people by doing it the way I did. So, this time it’s like I had a second chance.

“I said, ‘You know what? People are going to hate me for whatever reason, so I can’t allow that to stop me from making my decision.’ I thought that my decision took a lot of guts because everybody’s saying, ‘How could you leave the Lakers and six billion fans?’ But I don’t care about being an outcast or about being somebody that may look bad. All I’ve got to do is win now, and I’m in the right situation.”

Howard in his one year with the Lakers had a tumultuous season that included having a coaching change five games into the regular season, hiring a coach he did not desire, answering constant questions about his future with the organization and his health, and helping his injury-riddled team reach the postseason.

After he chose to leave Los Angeles, reports started to steam out that Howard never really bought into the organization and was unwilling to running the pick-and-roll offense, which was something he strived in with Orlando and is expected to run with his new team the Houston Rockets.

Other reports also stated he had told to the Lakers that he wanted head coach Mike D’Antoni fired and Kobe Bryant amnestied in order for him to re-sign with the team. This also to go along with former Lakers’ great Kareem Abdul-Jabbar stating last week that Howard has low basketball IQ and that his potential has a “shelf-life.”

In his final two seasons with the Magic he had the same questions about his future and if he was happy with the franchise’s direction. He was discontent in those last two years which evident by the firing of head coach Stan Van Gundy and throwing his teammates under the bus for the franchises struggles.

All this gave way to criticism over his departure from both franchises. Howard was never happy with the Lakers and in the final two years with the Magic, so with that said he was ready to turn the page onto a new chapter in his career and move on from what occurred in Orlando and Los Angeles.

There were some things that I missed about Orlando,” Howard said. “There’s a lot of situations that nobody really knows that I kept on the inside, but there’s some things about Orlando that I missed. I’d say that getting out in the community and doing a lot of stuff that I did, I miss doing that stuff in Orlando and the relationships that I built with a lot of people over there in Orlando. I miss that.

“But I have no regrets. I’m happy everything happened the way it happened. Even though I got hurt in the process and I had to go through a tough time, it made me a better person. I’m more mature now. I know how to handle situations different than I did back then.”

He also spoke about the dismay he had over the Magic allowing Tobias Harris wear his jersey number because of what he helped the organization accomplish during his eight-year tenure in Orlando

“I just think that despite whatever happened, there was a lot of things that I did and that we did as a team, and that number was special down there,” Howard said. “And I was a little bit upset about that.”

Howard appears to be looking forward as the Lakers continue to be a topic of discussion for the big man, but in order for all  all criticism to diminish Howard knows what he must do and that is win a championship with the Rockets. If he does not accomplish that then he will forever be chastised for his decision to leave arguably the most illustrious franchise in all of sports.

Photo Credit: Stephen Dunn / Getty Images

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Bob Garcia IV

Bob Garcia is a sports journalist from Southern California. He was a reporter for the award-winning newspaper, The Daily Sundial, at California State University, Northridge. You can follow him on Twitter, @BGarcia90.