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Dwight Howard says his poor conditioning has cost the Lakers ‘a lot of games’

Feb 24, 2013, 9:30 AM EDT

Dwight Howard AP

Anyone who’s watched Dwight Howard play in a Lakers jersey this season knows that he’s nowhere near the all-world center he used to be during his years with the Orlando Magic.

Howard underwent back surgery during the offseason, and while he’s recovered enough to physically be back out on the court, doctors familiar with that type of injury will tell you that the recovery time is a solid year, and that’s exactly how long we can expect to go by before Howard is back playing at the level we’re accustomed to seeing him play on anywhere near a consistent basis.

In addition to the back issues, Howard suffered a torn labrum in his right shoulder earlier this season, and is playing through the pain rather than choosing to have surgery which would shut him down for the rest of the year.

Howard is tougher than most have given him credit for, and after battling public perception for the first part of this season as to where the blame ultimately lies for the Lakers’ underachievement, he’s finally taking responsibility for his part in this season’s mess.

From Ramona Shelburne of ESPNLosAngeles:

“You’ve got to have energy and I want to bring that energy every night,” Howard said in a revealing interview Saturday afternoon. “That’s my job. They count on me to be that guy. I just know how much more effective I will be when I’m in better shape. And, unfortunately, it’s cost us a lot of games.”

Howard said his conditioning has improved throughout the season, but he’s still “not even close” to where he wants to be, and where he once was before undergoing back surgery in the offseason.

“I knew that would be a process. The better shape I’m in, the more active I can be and the more I’m able to do on the floor,” he said. “But it was a struggle at first because I just didn’t have it in the tank, especially on defense.”

Again, this is not news for anyone who’s watched Howard and the Lakers remotely closely this season. But his comments are important nonetheless.

As has been said many times, no matter what happens with the Lakers this season, the goal of the team is to sign Howard this summer to a max contract extension, making him the face of the franchise for years to come long after Kobe Bryant decides to retire.

The fact that Howard is owning up publicly to his role in this season’s disappointment may mean he’s turning the corner a bit — both in terms of how he views his place on the team, as well as how he may be feeling about his long-term prospects in Los Angeles.

  1. manchestermiracle - Feb 24, 2013 at 10:06 AM

    Howard growing up? This’ll certainly upset all those who so enjoy bagging on Howard for not being as perfect as they think they are. Ready, set, cue the “just an excuse” trolls….

  2. psung26 - Feb 24, 2013 at 10:07 AM

    Howard is damaged goods. However, Bynum is a pile of flaming hot wreckage.

  3. losanginsight - Feb 24, 2013 at 10:08 AM

    Early candidate for 2014 BSOHL all NBA team. No team will want to see The LAkeshow in the first round .

  4. kb2408 - Feb 24, 2013 at 10:33 AM

    The Lakers won’t win a title this season but the future is bright, in spite of what the naysayers may suggest. In 2014 Dwight will still be a Laker, and completely healthy, and the team will have tons of cap space to add another elite free agent, or two (Kevin Love?).

  5. reesesteel23 - Feb 24, 2013 at 10:51 AM

    Steve Nash blames his back. Dwight Howard blames his shoulder and his conditioning. Kobe, as much as I dislike him sometimes, never blames an injury and has had more to speak of than either of those 2. Shut the hell up and play. If you’re hurt, go sit down somewhere…and keep quiet

    I have a reliable source that told me these were the last words he heard coming from the Laker locker room after the last game.

    “Trade everybody!!” -Kobe Bryant

  6. dirtydrew - Feb 24, 2013 at 10:57 AM

    The real meat in this article is a guy that wants huge money is built like Glass Joe. Not where I want my long term free agent money going. He will be a long term mistake for the poor team who signs him.

  7. isujames - Feb 24, 2013 at 1:30 PM

    And guess what, Howard doesn’t care as you can see by watching todays game.He will bolt like Usain at the end of the year.

    • cosanostra71 - Feb 24, 2013 at 3:55 PM

      Lakers win again. 7-3 in their last 10.

  8. chargerdillon - Feb 24, 2013 at 1:43 PM

    Tell us something we don’t know Dwight

  9. kb2408 - Feb 24, 2013 at 1:43 PM

    ^^ Yeah, hater, you’ll eat your words in a few months. Hope they go down easy.

  10. shanelsweet - Feb 24, 2013 at 2:24 PM

    How can anyone honestly believe that the NBA doesn’t have a steroid problem.

  11. jessethegreat - Feb 24, 2013 at 4:07 PM

    This Lakers fan likes hearing Dwight shouldering some of the blame.

    BUT, quit looking back on what could have been and concentrate on making the playoffs.

  12. jenniferjjohnson96 - Feb 24, 2013 at 8:56 PM

    Reblogged this on prettygirl37 and commented:
    I just hope you are truly ready to be back out on the court in full force before you do because if you are still injured…u will only make your health conditions worse. Why do u think Derrick Rose has not come back yet with the Chicago Bulls?

  13. omniusprime - Feb 25, 2013 at 9:02 AM

    At least Howard is shouldering the blame for some of the Laker’s woes this season. Howard did make quite an effort to be ready to play at the beginning of the season when he was supposed to start later on. We should give Howard a little more credit for being tough enough to play when his back isn’t healed. If we still had Bynum where would the team be? I’d say in even worse shape.

    Fire Dumbtoni!!! Trade Trash Nash and Steve Flake!!! Thanks Dr. Jerry Buss and Rest in Peace!!!

    • hwatt - Feb 25, 2013 at 11:45 AM

      hehehe, you said “shouldering the blame”. ahh i honestly liked that one.

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