Dwight Howard has had a few down years, but the once-dominant center seems to believe the Charlotte Hornets are the best place for one more chance.
Howard spent last season with his h0metown Atlanta Hawks, and it didn’t go as he nor the Hawks expected. He admittedly was frustrated after spending the season’s most meaningful moments glued to the bench.
“In Atlanta, I was going to be involved in the offense,” Howard said in a wide-ranging interview with ESPN. “Then, toward the end of the season, it turned into, ‘Hey, we just got you for defense and rebounds.'”
Howard continued: “It stung me how I started the season, getting a lot of shot attempts, getting the ball — and by the end of the season, in the fourth I was sitting on the bench. It pissed me off. I knew that I had more to give the game, give myself and the team.”
Prior to joining the Hawks, Howard had a falling out with the Houston Rockets and star guard James Harden. Before that, things didn’t work out in Los Angeles with the Lakers and Kobe Byrant.
But Howard said he feels his strong relationship with Hornets coach Steve Clifford will lead to a win-win situation.
“The other places I was, the coaches didn’t really know who I am,” Howard told ESPN. “I think that they had perception of me and ran with it. Cliff knows my game. He knows all the things that I can do. I’m very determined to get back to the top. It’s a great feeling when somebody believes in you. They aren’t just saying it; they believe it. It really just pushed me to the limit in workouts: running, training, everything. I want to do more.”
Howard, 31, isn’t likely to return to the force he once was with the Orlando Magic during the first eight years of his career (2004-12). He averaged just 13.5 points last season — his lowest output since his rookie season.
But it can’t hurt he is entering his latest fresh start with great respect for the coach — not mention having a team owner such as Michael Jordan roaming the building.
“Throughout all the mess that has happened the last couple of years, this is a great opportunity for me to prove to myself that I know exactly who I am — to just shut people’s mouths,” Howard told ESPN.