Dwight Howard on Wednesday night sought to clarify the remark he recently made to a Los Angeles-area television station that his old Orlando Magic squads were “full of people who nobody wanted.”
And he also said the media had “twisted” his words.
“My statement was just to say that our team that I played with in Orlando, we were the underdogs," Howard told reporters after his Los Angeles Lakers beat the New Orleans Hornets late Wednesday night, according to ESPNLosAngeles.com. “Nobody really talked about our team. It was underrated. Everybody overlooked us for the whole time I was there in Orlando and I hated that. We all hated that. We thrived off that. My comments were never to say anything disrespectful to those guys. Those were my teammates for years. They helped me become the player that I am today and we all got to the Finals because of that.
“I would never say anything disrespectful to those guys and I think a lot of people took that and ran with it, twisted it into a negative thing. I love those guys. We've had some great memories and we thrived off people saying that we weren't going to make it to the Finals, we weren't going to be a good team. That's what pushed us.”
Howard’s original comment was made during an extended interview with a Los Angeles television station, and the video from that interview was available on the Internet for anyone, including his former Magic teammates, to watch for themselves and draw their own conclusions.
They didn’t like what he said.
Jameer Nelson said, “At some point, when are you [Dwight] gonna as a man, when are you going to take ownership and stay out of the media in a professional manner?”
And J.J. Redick told ESPNLosAngeles.com before the Milwaukee Bucks’ game Wednesday against the L.A. Clippers, "I'm not surprised by it. I would be more surprised when Dwight starts taking responsibility. That would be the most negative thing I can say, but that's the truth.
“You can't take all the credit and not accept any of the blame.”
In Dec. 2011, after the NBA lockout ended, Howard asked for a trade from the Magic.
When his trade request became public, he indicated that one of the reasons for his request was that team officials didn’t act on his personnel suggestions.
"I've talked to a lot of guys and they've expressed a lot of interest and would come here," Howard said on Dec. 11, 2011. "And I've expressed that to the correct people, and none of it's happened."
His sentiment upset some of his teammates then.
And his recent comments to the television station in Los Angeles appeared to inflame those old wounds.
In the interview with KCAL, Howard was asked to respond to criticism about his tendency to smile and kid around during practices and games. He made his comment about the Magic almost as an aside at the end of a larger answer.
At about 2 minutes, 30 seconds into the video, Howard began: “And I understand coming here to L.A., Kobe’s here and for 17 years Laker fans have seen Kobe be, they just see Kobe as somebody who’s serious. It seems like he doesn’t fool around, joke around, whatever it may be. But that’s his personality, and just because I don’t necessary make a [growling sound] or do all that during games or on the bench, that doesn’t mean I don’t care about succeeding or wanting to win.
“And I always tell people, ‘Hey, my team in Orlando was a team full of people who nobody wanted, and I was the leader and I led that team with a smile on my face.”
Late Wednesday, Howard said his comment was “blown out of proportion.”
Howard told reporters: "It was never intended to disrespect or downgrade any of those guys.
"I would always tell them I wouldn't trade them for the world,” he added. “That's how I viewed it. For the most part, those guys know that. They know who I am and they probably just heard something and people twisted it and turned it in different ways. I'm not that kind of guy. I would never disrespect those guys. It just kind of got blown out of proportion."
Here's the video of the interview.
Josh Robbins covers the Orlando Magic and the NBA for the Orlando Sentinel. You can reach him via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org and connect with him on Facebook at facebook.com/JoshuaBRobbins. Follow him on Twitter at @JoshuaBRobbins.Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times