NEWLY acquired Houston Rockets center Dwight Howard is now in his third NBA team - and he hopes it would be his last.
Talking briefly with local and international media before Houston’s first practice in Manila on Tuesday, Howard said he’s glad that his turbulent one-season stint with the Los Angeles Lakers is finally over as he looks to re-establish himself as one of the league's premier big men.
“You’ve got to weather the storm and learn how to play. But I know it will be fun. I think we’re gonna have an unbelievable year,” Howard said, before joining the rest of the Rockets in a huddle at mid-court inside the Mall of Asia Arena.
Howard has battled back problem and right shoulder injury during the course of his season-long stay with the Lakers, a team that had hoped to build around the 2004 top overall pick after prying him away from the Orlando Magic.
But both the Lakers and Howard's season fell well below expectations as the team was bundled out in the first round of the playoffs.
Howard, however, said he is healthier coming into the new season.
“Personally, I’ll have a great year. I’m a lot healthier than I was. With the injury I had (last season), it takes sometime to heal from it. Not just physically but also mentally,” he said.
The 27-year-old former high school star at Southwest Atlanta Christian Academy explained that just because he’s physically gifted doesn’t mean he was immune from pain during his brief stay with the Lakers.
“It’s not just because I have big muscles and stuff like that. People thought that it was nothing major (injuries and struggles), but it was a very tough process I had to go through and I’m happy to be out of it,” said the new Rockets star center.
“I don’t think a lot of people understood it (his situation and health). They saw the smile, but they thought everything was okay. But there’s a lot of pain I had to endure,” he recalled.
“With the back and trying to be healthy, and then I end up hurting my shoulder, that’s another setback. But in order to be great, you got to go through something, you have to sacrifice,” he added.
Howard gamely answered the questions thrown at him, but carefully side-stepped the issue he had with Lakers superstar Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles fans.
Howard said his brief stay with Los Angeles was a case of “bad weather” in his nine-year NBA career.
“There will be pain, injury and stuffs like that. It’s a test, a big test. But I think I passed the test. Like I always tell my self, there’s a rainbow in the storm. I had that period of bad weather,” said Howard, who mentioned his readiness to work with upcoming NBA stars James Harden and Jeremy Lin this coming season.