Dwight Howard briefly considered retiring from the NBA after having surgery to repair a herniated disc in his back this spring, he tells Scott Howard-Cooper of NBA.com. He was advised by doctors over the summer that nerve damage caused by the herniated disc may have rendered him unable to play basketball if he had waited any longer to have surgery, forcing an early retirement:
“If I would have waited until after the season (to have the operation), if I would have tried to continue to play, then I probably wouldn’t be able to play anymore. I had to do it right away. I didn’t want to risk my career for some playoff games. They were important for me, but my health is important.”
Howard's injury caused him to miss the end of the 2011/12 regular season as well as the 2012 playoffs when he was a member of the Orlando Magic. It also prevented him from playing for Team USA at the Summer Olympics in London. Howard was traded to Los Angeles in August, but questions have lingered as to whether his back is fully healed from the surgery as the Lakers have struggled.