Dwight Howard returned to the Los Angeles Lakers this season and has turned into one of the team’s most important players. While there were some questions about whether or not Howard would participate in the NBA restart, he decided to come back and try to win his first championship.
Coincidentally, the career journey now forces Howard to make another return, this time to Orlando where he began his NBA career. Howard spent the first eight seasons of his career with the Orlando Magic after being drafted first overall in 2004.
He enjoyed his greatest success there as well, winning three consecutive Defensive Player of the Year Awards, making five All-NBA First Team appearances, and helping lead the team to the 2009 NBA Finals.
Though Howard has obviously returned there for individual games over the years, he’s now set to spend the next couple of months in the city. This caused Howard to reflect on his time there and in a recent Instagram Live session, discussed what he misses most about playing in Orlando:
“The people, man. I had a great time in Orlando, man. They’ve always tried to pit me against the people here, but I enjoyed every minute of playing basketball in this city. I enjoyed the people here. We had so much fun. Anybody who was in Orlando when I was here remembers all the stuff that we did. It was a great time. We had pop-up event, barbecues, events where we would just go kick it. … We had some great times out here.”
Howard is undoubtedly in a different headspace than he was earlier in his career. While he can look back fondly on his time in Orlando now, he was not exactly beloved at the time of his departure.
Fans had become tired of his joking attitude, there were constant rumors of him wanting to be traded away, and his feud with head coach Stan Van Gundy had many fans on the side of the coach. These days, Howard has matured greatly and become beloved by fans who despised him prior.
There is no doubt the big man had some great times in Orlando and now can look back at those fondly as he stays in the city where he built his career.
Danny Green, Kyle Kuzma excited Dwight Howard has joined the team in Orlando
There were some concerns about whether Howard would return to the Lakers as he has been very vocal about the need to keep fighting for social justice, not to mention the awful tragedy that he had to deal with in regards to the mother of his child.
Nonetheless, Howard did ultimately decide to finish out the season and his Lakers teammates are excited about it. “I think everybody knows what kind of presence he’s been for us. He’s obviously a key piece. Everyone is a key piece on our team,” Danny Green recently noted.
“Took a blow, took a hit, when Avery opted out, but we have a lot of good pieces and experience. Dwight has been a good spark for us off the bench, a rim protector and changed a lot of games for us.
Kyle Kuzma also shared the same sentiments as Green when asked for his initial reaction to the news. “Dwight has been a great teammate all year and always been there for people on and off the floor,” Kuzma said.
“Playing with no ego, just having one common goal. We’re happy to have him come back and be able to join our team in Orlando in the bubble. I think it’s great for us.”
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