Dwight Howard took a swipe at his former Orlando Magic teammates in a recent television interview, saying that the Magic squads he played on were “full of people who nobody wanted.”
During an extended Q-and-A with a Los Angeles TV station, Howard was asked to respond to criticism about his tendency to smile and kid around during practices and games. His comment about his former Magic teammates was said almost as an aside at the end of a larger answer.
At about 2 minutes, 30 seconds into the video, Howard began: “And I understand coming here to L.A., Kobe’s here and for 17 years Laker fans have seen Kobe be, they just see Kobe as somebody who’s serious. It seems like he doesn’t fool around, joke around, whatever it may be. But that’s his personality, and just because I don’t necessary make a [growling sound] or do all that during games or on the bench, that doesn’t mean I don’t care about succeeding or wanting to win.
“And I always tell people, ‘Hey, my team in Orlando was a team full of people who nobody wanted, and I was the leader and I led that team with a smile on my face.”
Howard’s comment will add some intrigue to the March 12 matchup between Howard’s Lakers and the Magic at Amway Center.
That game will be Howard’s first game in Orlando since April 5, 2012.
In Dec. 2011, Howard requested a trade from the Magic.
After his request became public knowledge, he said publicly that Magic officials hadn’t done enough to act on his suggestions to improve the team’s roster.
That sentiment, as well as his previously stated desire to play alongside point guards Chris Paul and Deron Williams, created friction with his teammates, including his Magic co-captain, Jameer Nelson.
The Magic and Lakers have played each other this season once before, with the Magic beating the Lakers 113-103. Howard and his former teammates — Nelson, Glen Davis and J.J. Redick — barely spoke to each other during that game.
Howard left the court just as the final buzzer sounded and didn’t shake any Magic players’ hands.
Josh Robbins covers the Orlando Magic and the NBA for the Orlando Sentinel. You can reach him via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org and connect with him on Facebook at facebook.com/JoshuaBRobbins. Follow him on Twitter at @JoshuaBRobbins.