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Dwight Howard apologizes to Orlando for how exit went down

Mar 11, 2013, 1:19 PM EDT

Dwight Howard AP

This isn’t going to change anything.

It isn’t going to change that Dwight Howard has a home in Bel Air (an expensive Los Angeles enclave) and is wearing a Los Angeles Lakers jersey this season. It isn’t going to change the reaction Howard is going to get when he returns to Orlando on Tuesday.

But he is sorry.

Speaking from his Los Angeles home, Howard told Sam Amick of the USA Today he was sorry for how everything went down in his exit from Orlando last year.

“In Orlando, I handled a lot of stuff the wrong way,” he said, sitting at his kitchen table. “If any of those people in Orlando are upset with how I did it, I apologize for the way I handled it and the way it was handled in the media.

“I really just got caught up in wanting to please everybody else. I really love that city. That was the hardest thing to do was to leave that city because I basically grew up there. That was my whole life. Orlando was it. I did not want to leave all that behind — the city, just everything about it. The fans. But I wanted a change for my life. I just felt like there was something else out there for me.”

Howard’s indecisiveness and how all that went down hurt his public standing — he went from a guy largely liked by fans around the league to a guy whose efforts were being compared to LeBron’s decision. It hit him in the pocketbook as McDonald’s and Gatorade saw Howard’s popularity numbers and dropped him as a sponsor.

It hasn’t been any better lately, with Howard telling a Los Angeles reporter that the Magic team was made up of players nobody wanted. Whatever his intentions, it comes off poorly for him.

“There are a lot of things about me that have changed,” said Howard, a 27-year-old Atlanta native who was drafted first overall out of high school in 2004. “I’m becoming a better man because of the stuff that has happened to me this last year and a half. Everybody goes through stuff like this. Even though I’m going through it where everybody in the world can see it, I’m happy that it’s happening.

“If it didn’t happen, I’d be stuck in my ways. I would never change, and then it would be a lot worse. For all this stuff to happen, for me to sit back and see and evaluate myself and what I could’ve done better and realize that I needed to make a change, I’m getting better. I’m growing up. I’m maturing.”

In American sports culture, one thing cures these kind of issues — winning. Whether it is Kobe Bryant and rape charges or LeBron James and the decision (or countless other examples) you can win your way back for much of the population by winning. That is where Howard is — help lead the Lakers to titles and the adulation (and sponsors) will return. Struggle and the pressures will mount.

He’s going to have to mature to deal with all that and get the wins he craves. It appears that process has started. We’ll see how far it goes over the next several years.

  1. cosanostra71 - Mar 11, 2013 at 1:45 PM

    Dwight lives in Newport. He purchased a $20 million home here

  2. thesixersbench - Mar 11, 2013 at 1:45 PM

    He should apologize for that outfit.

  3. eddit13 - Mar 11, 2013 at 1:55 PM

    In Orlando he lived in Isleworth just like Tiger Woods and Shaq. Who cares if he has a house in Bel Air, Newport or wherever. The only thing that has the Orlando fans upset is that he acted like he really, really wanted to stay when he really, really did not. Similar to Lebron, if you’re young and you want to move on and live someplace else, say it! People keep saying Melo forced his way to NY but at least he was clear with management about what he planned to do. There was never any ambiguity in Denver, they knew they had to make a deal and they made a GREAT deal for themselves. Orlando could have known way earlier had Dwight been up front and probably made just as good a deal. Instead they waited and waited, made a really really dumb deal the year before and had no assets to deal when time was up.

  4. spthegr8 - Mar 11, 2013 at 1:57 PM

    @sixers
    You shouldn’t be worrying about his outfit. What YOU NEED to be worried about is that 7 ft Ike Turner look a like with the bum knee. That’s what you really need to be worried about. JUST SAYING!!!!

    • thesixersbench - Mar 11, 2013 at 2:39 PM

      I know this might be unbelievable to you, but someone can make a joke without being concerned.

      You Lakers fans are so touchy – it’s funny to poke the bear because you always react in the most hilarious fashion. Here in Philadelphia we have developed a thick skin from years of losing, disappointment and failure – you guys would do well to develop the same, because ‘butthurt’ isn’t a good look. But go ahead and tell me about all the banners again…which of those teams did you play for? ;)

      • thesixersbench - Mar 11, 2013 at 2:40 PM

        ( / yankees fan )

  5. loungefly74 - Mar 11, 2013 at 2:16 PM

    Dwight…just shut up and get us a ring, will ya?

  6. manchestermiracle - Mar 11, 2013 at 2:21 PM

    “This isn’t going to change anything.”

    If you mean for Orlando fans, you’re right: Howard’s a convenient target for their frustration, although the real problem is team management.

    If you mean for Howard, you’re wrong: This reflection by him is proof he’s growing and learning. Just the fact he realized he had no future in Orlando makes him wiser than Magic management.

    • december77 - Mar 12, 2013 at 5:11 AM

      “This reflection by him” is proof that his publicist just got back from over a year long vacation. Jameer Nelson finally bites back in the media, and all of a sudden Dwight is eloquent and apologetic? Please…it’s so transparent that someone else wrote this for him. I’m actually surprised he has the brain cells to recite that many lines. The man is 28 and only now he’s “maturing”? hahahahahaha!!! Right… He’ll be a baby where ever he goes, and he’ll always have something to complain about.

  7. adoombray - Mar 11, 2013 at 2:25 PM

    i think the horse is dead. Dwight needs to stop talking about Orlando. Dwight was traded 9 months ago. If you and I were buddies and I still talked about an ex-girlfriend that broke up with me 9 months ago every few days, well, i’d hope you’d be a good friend and tell me to move on with my life

  8. bigwii - Mar 11, 2013 at 2:50 PM

    What he said was true but its something that went without saying and he shouldn’t have said it. But then again who cares its the Magic it’s not like they matter anyway. Dwight should focus on winning because that’s all they care about in L.A. talking isn’t his strength.

  9. fanofevilempire - Mar 11, 2013 at 3:10 PM

    time to move on.

  10. acdc363 - Mar 11, 2013 at 3:12 PM

    I may be in the minority here but I wanna see D12 overcome this and succeed!

  11. HotHotHeat - Mar 11, 2013 at 3:35 PM

    It’s only a matter of time before Howard burns the Lakers and their fans. Just wait til he asks for their coach to be fired.

    • asimonetti88 - Mar 11, 2013 at 4:42 PM

      “Just wait til he asks for their coach to be fired.”

      I think that will only endear him to Lakers fans more. D’Antoni is not very popular in LA.

      • HotHotHeat - Mar 11, 2013 at 4:56 PM

        lol

  12. lakerluver - Mar 11, 2013 at 3:55 PM

    @HotHotHeat
    Since it’s “obvious” you can predict the future what is LeBron going to do after next season? Better yet, what is the winning numbers to the upcoming mega millions?
    I will repeat what I said when Dwight left Orlando, they had several years to put talent around him. The sad thing is they didn’t learn from losing Shaq…to the very same franchise nevertheless!! Dwight doesn’t owe Orlando anything. He put that team back on the map after they lost Shaq.

    • HotHotHeat - Mar 11, 2013 at 4:53 PM

      Well well well….look at what the cat drug in. Haven’t seen the Lakerluver screen name on here in months. Don’t let a few Laker wins fool you, they are still a sub .500 team.

      It’s very simple to predict what Lebron is going to do. If the Heat win the next two titles he’s not leaving Miami. A chance at a 4-peat will keep him in Miami. At least one more title probably keeps him in Miami as well. And it doesn’t look like they are losing this year.

      If you followed the Magic you would know they tried to put people around him that compliment his game. The trade to Phoenix in 2010 was the worst move the Magic have made since signing Grant Hill in 2000 and started the end of the Howard era in Orlando(drafting Fran Vázquez hurt the organization too).

      Howard owes the Magic a lot more than most people think. If it wasn’t for that organization he would have wore a Bobcats uniform for a long time and I highly doubt he would have EVER made it to the finals with that organization.

      • asimonetti88 - Mar 11, 2013 at 5:29 PM

        “don’t let a few Laker wins fool you, they are still a sub .500 team.”

        Kind of hard to make that argument. You’re only as good as your record, and the Lakers record suggests that they are a winning team at 33-31.

  13. klownboy - Mar 11, 2013 at 4:01 PM

    I hope the Magic fans boo the hell out of Dwight. He deserves it.

    http://wp.me/1gCK6

  14. magicbucs - Mar 11, 2013 at 5:22 PM

    Good point hot hot heat…

  15. lakerluver - Mar 11, 2013 at 5:37 PM

    @H.H.H.
    he owes them nothing. The dude was an iron man in Orlando. Had he gone to the Bobcats he probably would’ve taken that franchise to multiple playoffs appearances as well. Don’t worry though, just like the LAKERS showed Orlando how to win titles with Shaq, they’re going to do the same with Dwight.

    • HotHotHeat - Mar 11, 2013 at 5:55 PM

      Unless the Lakers add Lebron, Durant, or Phil as their coach, they aren’t winning another title anytime soon. Times have changed since the last time the lakers won a title.

  16. lakerluver - Mar 11, 2013 at 5:50 PM

    Plus, after being gone for a month or so, nothing has changed much on here. Heat fans still slobbering over their little franchise (wake me when they get to 16 titles), LAKER bashing, Kobe hating etc., etc., etc…At least that lunatic ph53 hasn’t begun cyber stalking me again. At least, not yet.

    • HotHotHeat - Mar 11, 2013 at 5:56 PM

      Neither have you…..

  17. lakerluver - Mar 11, 2013 at 6:14 PM

    Yeah, I’m sure things have changed. Is that why Dwight’s in a LAKERS jersey? Mark my word on this: next season the LAKERS lineup will be Kobe (aka VINO), Dwight (100% healthy), E.C., Nash and either Kevin Love or Josh Smith. Let’s see the rest of the league deal with that. As for the Heat, they’re doing the same thing the Spurs did, win a few titles. Even if LeBron does resign they won’t win forever. The NBA doesn’t work like that. I’m willing to bet when it’s all said and done he won’t have as many titles as VINO has. And VINO ain’t done yet. After the LeBron era ends the Heat will go back to being afterthoughts. Meanwhile, the LAKERS franchise will always win. They have for the better part of three decades. That’s not changing. What else that’s not changing is elite players will always want to play for the PURPLE AND GOLD.

  18. amehta256 - Mar 11, 2013 at 7:46 PM

    It’s so obvious that Howard will sign a long term deal in Los Angeles and then Kobe will retire in a year and the lakers will still be searching for a ring so they will fire D’Antoni and hire Jackson and win a few rings.

  19. j0esixpack - Mar 11, 2013 at 7:54 PM

    I see lakerluvr/bozosforall is back.

    So typical that she hides under a rock while the Lakers are going thru a tough stretch – but back with the smack talk now that the Lakers are back in the playoff hunt.

  20. reupjosh - Mar 11, 2013 at 8:44 PM

    HHHeat and laker luver are both idiots. Not only do you have the two lamest names, but you’re predictions are sooo antiquated and predictable. Mark my words… in two years, Dwight and Lebron are joining kyrie, lilliard and Durant in Seattle with Phil jacksoncoaching. Duhhhh!!!

  21. wgray981 - Mar 11, 2013 at 9:53 PM

    Well I don’t forgive LeBron for leaving- he basically ruined the NBA. Now star players (perfect example: Howard) just whine and don’t play until they get traded to a good team.

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