T.J. Simers of the Los Angeles Times has a new feature story on Lakers center Dwight Howard. In it, Howard opens up about his messy departure from the Magic, his health, the Lakers' current struggles, and his future as a free agent this summer.
On his decision to leave the Magic and the criticism he faced:
"I remember making appearances in Orlando and families asking me to stay and sitting there trying not to cry," he says.
He says he watched LeBron leave Cleveland and knew what was coming. "I saw people burning his jersey and I'm thinking I don't want to hurt these people like that. But at the same time I had everyone telling me what I should do.
"People don't understand," he says. "Yeah, I'm this big guy, but I also have a big heart. All I wanted to do was put Orlando on the map, but then I see all this stuff being written; I had to stop reading Twitter and doing Facebook. It was bad for my soul.
"And here I am shouting for God to help me knowing the teacher sometimes remains quiet. I guess it was a test."
On his current health after April back surgery:
"I get so tired running," he says. "I look like I'm in shape, but I'm not. My friends are used to seeing me run for 40 minutes without a problem."
On his relationship with Kobe Bryant:
"Why can't we coexist?" he asks. "Because we're opposites? I thought opposites attract.
"You know why we can play well together? Kobe knows how hard I work and that I'm all about championships. We're also entertainers, and for the two hours and 20 minutes that people come to a game they want to be entertained."
So could you yell a little more at Kobe to really make it entertaining?
"We've already had our moments," he says.
On his future:
Howard will be a free agent at the end of this season. I ask him if he knows now where he will be playing next year, and he says, "I know."
I suggest that means the Lakers because he could not know of any other opportunity at this time. But I still make a pitch for the Clippers, figuring he might want to play for the best team in town.
He laughs, and when I suggest that some opine if this season falls apart it will convince him to leave, he says that's not the case.
He says the Lakers are all about championships, and "what's not to like about L.A.?"