Six seasons after Howard signed with the Houston Rockets in 2013 NBA free agency, there have been heated debates about his return — and rightfully so. Along with what happened in Howard’s lone season with the Lakers, he has played for four different teams and has been waived twice.
As there are concerns about Howard’s willingness to accept a lesser role and locker room presence, the now 33-year-old has been saying all the right things so far. However, the Lakers and their fans will judge him based on his actions.
In perhaps his last chance in the NBA, Howard was in the center of Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal‘s brief beef. After Bryant felt he could have won 12 championships if O’Neal was not lazy, the latter made a joke about Howard.
Considering the history between these three players, it would have been easy for Howard to fire back at Bryant and O’Neal. However, he decided to take the high road when asked about it during his media conference call.
“I didn’t know about it until one day when it was brought to my attention when I was on Instagram,” Howard said. “Shaq and Kobe are some of the greatest players to ever play the game of basketball. I have nothing but love and respect.”
With Howard handling this latest situation well, he revealed how important this offseason was for him as an individual.
“This summer was very important to me as an individual. Got a chance to isolate myself — not from people — but just isolate, really try to get alone, become one with myself, become more balanced,” Howard explained to the media.
“I just felt it was really important for me.”
For Howard, his second stint in Los Angeles will be much different from his first. After initially being viewed as the next face of the Lakers following Bryant’s retirement, Howard’s role will be to rebound and defend at a high level.
While Howard is likely a future Hall of Famer for his eight seasons with the Orlando Magic, the way the media and fans view his career can quickly change if he can help the Lakers win a championship as part of a redemption story.