Hey, it’s not easy being Dwight, at least it isn’t these days.
Before he embarked on two seasons of Free Agent Hell, Howard was widely beloved as a cross between Shaq and Bozo the Clown.
For Dwight, who has always been adored, anything less than adoration was like being exiled to Siberia.
Or, welcome to his last two seasons.
“It was very difficult, it was very difficult” Howard said after Sunday’s victory over the Bulls.
“I just take it as a blessing to go through, instead of saying everbody’s picking on me and hating on me, or whatever.”
So, now, everything’s all better!
Not so fast….
“Do you feel accepted now in L.A.?” someone asked.
The question was routine, at least as far as handling it. Who ever says he doesn’t feel accepted?
Well, besides Dwight?
“Uh”–he paused… for four full seconds, smiled, then giggled–“well, I mean, things are getting better. You know, we’re winning. People are happier….
“I can’t focus on the outside. What matters is this locker room and what we’re trying to accomplish. These guys know what I’m trying to do to help this team and they know that it’s a process….
“I’m not going to change who I am. Sometimes in those situations, people want you to change but I just can’t change who I am. I got to go out there and play hard and have fun while i do it. But I do take everything that I do serious.
“I did [shut it down] but it was stupid of me to do that. I shouldn’t ever have let anybody affect who I am, as a person. The coaches tell me, ‘Never let anybody steal your joy.’
“This is my passion. This is my sanctuary on the court.”
In fact, his teammates have wondered what’s up with him since he arrived. That, plus the significant limitations coming off back surgery, is why the Lakers are who they are, instead of who they were expected to be.
His teammates will keep wondering until July 1 when Dwight is finally, officially, a free agent… before heading into the 2013-14 season when Kobe’s contract runs out to see how many of the Big Two remain.
Aside from that and the new phenomenon of watching the team try to climb up to the No. 8 slot in March, it’s just another season in Lakerdom.