Life for Dwight Howard since being traded from the Orlando Magic in the summer of 2012 (his request) hasn’t exactly been rosy. Formerly a superstar and seen as one of the five to 10 best and most popular players in the NBA, Howard began to deal with a slew of injuries leading to a decline in his play. Reports of his difficulty to play with and his questionable locker room presence turned him from a beloved to a reviled player seemingly over night.
Howard will be playing for his fourth NBA team since being traded to the Lakers in the summer of 2012 as a member of the Hornets next season and has seen the league change around him and seemingly move beyond him. A guy that once was one of the three most valuable trade assets in the NBA was essentially dealt as a salary dump to move up 10 spots in the 2017 NBA Draft.
While Howard has always stayed positive in public and never showed that he doubted his ability or desire to play, a new report from Sports Illustrated’s Lee Jenkins shows that Howard strongly considered retirement after the 2014-15 season with the Rockets.
“At a low point with the Rockets, after the 2014–15 season, he considered retiring. The jolly giant who supposedly had too much fun on the floor was miserable. “The joy,” Howard says, “was sucked out of it.” But what would retirement accomplish? He had to change his life regardless of his occupation. So he did what his teenage self would have done. He saw a pastor.
Calvin Simmons has ministered to hundreds of professional athletes in the past decade, including Adrian Peterson, so he is familiar with dramatic falls from grace. “Dwight had gone from the darling of the NBA to the black sheep,” Simmons says. “He realized he had done some things wrong and needed to change, but at the beginning he just wanted to share.”
“I saw him cleanse everything,” Simmons says, “and cut away the clutter around him, from a business manager to a security guard to all these financial people.” The sweep included his parents, whom he didn’t call for nearly two years. “That was hard,” Howard sighs. “It’s really hard to tell your parents, ‘I can’t do this anymore. I have to back away from you.’ They didn’t understand. They were very upset. But I wanted a genuine relationship with them that didn’t have anything to do with money or judgment.”
It is pretty interesting and sad frankly that Howard had to cut his parents out of his life for a couple years in order to find himself and not deal with their judgement or money demands.
I personally have always defended Howard’s production on the court and thought he was worthy of making an All-NBA Team in Atlanta last season as one of the league’s best rebounders, rim-runners and a good rim protector as he always had been earlier in his career.
Charlotte really does feel like Howard’s last chance to change the narrative of his career that began in 2012. The Hornets have been a sneaky good defensive team (top 10 each of the past few seasons) with no one with Howard’s rim-protecting abilities on the roster, so if he is able to stay healthy and productive and lead them to the postseason he may finally find the sort of peace and happiness that has evaded him since he demanded to leave Orlando.