Dwight Howard is five-for-five in leaving NBA teams on bad terms.
But he insists he’s not a locker room cancer.
“My vibes is always good,” Howard told The Washington Post.
“I’ll address that any day. I ain’t no bad person. I ain’t never been no bad person in the locker room. All this stuff is just lies to try to justify why I was traded, or why I left the team. But anybody who knows me, who’s been around me, on and off the court, I ain’t never been no a–hole, I ain’t never been no mean person. I would never try to destroy a team, but that’s a narrative that they always tried to say to me because they couldn’t say nothing else. At one point they were saying I was a great teammate, that I smiled too much on the court. But I smiled my happy a– all the way to the Finals.”
I believe that Howard believes himself.
But we’re dealing with one of the least self-aware players the league’s ever seen.
And that’s what gets him onto his teammates’ bad sides.
The new Wizards center really is the fun-loving, jovial guy he wants everyone to believe he is. But he also apparently thinks his team’s best chance of success is his posting up every time down the floor.
I was speaking to a team source in midseason – this was months before the Howard trade – and he told me of the Hornets players’ frustration that Howard simply wouldn’t run the play that was called, sometimes in key last-minute situations.
Also, for a man with a superhero body, Howard’s screen-setting was often “terrible,” according to the source. Howard and former coach Steve Clifford – who was always seen as “The Howard Whisperer” – also did not have nearly as perfect a relationship as was advertised and had at least one notable confrontation. And I saw firsthand some of the eye-rolling that Howard’s teammates did when they spoke about him.
Howard’s situation is akin to Carmelo Anthony’s. Melo was, for a long time, one of the league’s best players.
At 32, Howard could be following in his former Team USA teammate’s footsteps if he doesn’t stop straying from the roles he can actually fill.