Dwight Howard opens up on 'Dwightmare' image, talks finishing career in Charlotte
Author: Nick Carboni
Published: 7:11 PM EST February 27, 2018
Updated: 10:08 PM EST February 27, 2018
HORNETS 5 Articles

CHARLOTTE – “Everything that was taken from me,” said Hornets center Dwight Howard, “I’m going to get it back.”

That statement by Charlotte’s big man could be applied to several areas.

His game? His reputation around the NBA? His peace of mind?

Howard sat down with NBC Charlotte Sports Director Nick Carboni as the Hornets look to make a late-season playoff push.

Topics included basketball, perception, the Hall of Fame, pedicures, farming, and legos.

In short – it was a vintage Dwight Howard interview.


Dwight Howard opens up on 'Dwightmare' image, talks finishing career in Charlotte

Chapter 1

Dwight, the Bobcat?

Charlotte is a place Howard could have started his career. The Charlotte Bobcats had the No. 2 overall selection in the 2004 NBA Draft.

No way they were getting the 6-foot-11 prodigy from Atlanta, expected to put some down-on-its-luck franchise on his broad shoulders. That franchise was the Orlando Magic, which Howard led to the 2009 NBA Finals, losing to the LA Lakers in five games.

But a few years, a few spats with coach Stan Van Gundy, and some trade requests later, Howard was jettisoned to the Lakers. Hollywood was a place that fit Howard’s personality perfectly -- off the court.

But coupled with the expectations of a championship franchise, the even-higher expectations of a demanding teammate (Kobe Bryant), and back issues, the marriage lasted one year.

Chapter 2

The 'Dwightmare'

Then it was off to Houston. Then Atlanta. Labels followed. Lazy. Bad teammate. Soft. Whiner.

“People have always come up with opinions about me without really knowing me,” he said. “When you listen to a lot of TV and radio, you never get to see a person or hear a person for themselves. You kind of take on what somebody else says about that person. I think that’s kind of happened with me over the years.”

This summer he was traded to the Hornets. Most of the NBA pundits scoffed and moved on to the next big transaction.

Chapter 3

Shipped to Charlotte

On June 20, while working out in Hawks gear, Howard found out he was shipped to Charlotte, flipped the gear inside out, and finished the workout.

Then came the call. It was Michael Jordan.

“I was zoned out,” Howard said. “I was like, 'man Michael just called.'”

The phone call from Howard’s second-favorite player (No. 1 being Wilt Chamberlain) put him at ease.

“It kind of gave me this overwhelming confidence,” Howard said, “that this season is going to be better than my last couple of years.”

In Charlotte, Howard has a lot of what he had in Orlando, a place many think he should have never left.

A big market, but not too big. A big-name teammate, without the big ego. Big expectations, but not too big.

It’s something Howard, at 32 and healthier than he’s been in years, thinks he can help build. His 15.7 points per game average is his best since 2014-15 with Houston. His 12.7 rebounds are tied with last year for his highest since 2011-12.

He’s gotten along well with, well, everyone.

“This is the best I’ve felt in the last three or four years as far as physically,” he said, “mentally I’m in an amazing place.”

Post All-Star break, the Hornets are 4-0 heading in to Tuesday’s home game against the Bulls. Four games out of a playoff spot with 22 games to go.

“Our chemistry is getting better,” said Howard. “Unfortunately we can’t tell how long it’s going to take for things to happen. But luckily the management stuck with the guys and they didn’t blow everything up.”

Chapter 4

Embracing the Queen City

Howard quickly took to Charlotte. Before he played a minute for the Hornets there was already a Dwight Howard Boys & Girls Club in town, paired with a $100,000 donation.

“I don’t want to be celebrated coming here just to help this team play basketball,” he said, “but to really help this community grow.”

In his spare time Howard says you might catch him getting a pedicure or going to the movies.

You will definitely catch him playing Legos. His latest is a Stars Wars piece from the new film, and he’s got more coming.

They take 6 or 7 hours to complete, Howard says, and he does them while watching film or having his body worked on.

Oh, and there’s the 700-acre farm in North Georgia. He has 59 cows, 200 hogs, Texas Longhorns, and his favorite – donkeys. It’s insinuated one ass is named after a real person, but Howard won’t reveal who.

The venture was inspired by trips to the country to visit his grandparents.

“Every time we would go visit my grandparents we would drive by these big fields and I would see cows, horses, and all different types of animals and stuff like that.

he said. “I thought man that would be wonderful if I had my own farm one day.”

Howard hopes to one day retire to the farm as a Hall of Famer. Something that statistically might seem obvious. But there’s inconsistency, a lack of championships, a game which no longer values a traditional big man. And of course, a perception.

“It doesn’t matter what all those people say,” he said. “At the end of the day I know who I am and I know what I’ve accomplished. The great thing about it is I’m still not done yet.”

Another call could come. Jordan could call Howard this offseason and say he’s been traded. He’s upped his value with a solid season. He’s due $23 million next season. He could help a contender.

Chapter 5

"This is a wonderful place"

“I would love to finish my career here,” Howard said. “This has been a great city for me. Uptown Charlotte is not super big, but it’s cozy enough for me, I love it. The fans here are amazing. I love wearing purple and teal.

This is a wonderful place.”