"I did," Howard admits. "It was stupid of me to do that. I should never let anyone affect who I am as a person."
He just might be the most people-pleasing athlete I have ever known, if you don't mention Lamar Odom.
"All I have to do is go out there with a smile on my face, have fun and play basketball," he says, as if still trying to convince himself.
"All the other stuff has just molded me into a better person. I look at it now as a blessing instead of everyone picking on me, while using it as fuel to push myself to help this team win."
Nice speech, but he really is the holly-jolly Dwight Howard once again. So is life in L.A. good now?
"Things are getting better," he says. "People are happier. But I would see [the criticism] and hear it. I understand all that stuff, but our goal is to win a championship."
As close as we are, I tried to let him down easy.
"You have no shot of winning a championship."
"We don't?" Howard asks, and bless his heart for acting surprised.
I believe Howard makes a huge difference, but not that much.
Kobe is playing super these days and the Lakers barely slipped past doormats like New Orleans and Toronto.
They have climbed into a playoff spot by going 9-0 against teams with losing records since Feb. 1. They are 4-5 against teams with winning records over the same stretch and will probably open the playoffs on the road against Oklahoma City or San Antonio.
And Mike D'Antoni is still the team's coach.
"I think we have a great shot of winning the championship," Howard says, and I'm happy for my guy, because everybody loves a dreamer.
But now he's asking for another hug, and I know what you're thinking, how do I pick and choose which athletes I hug?
"I'll hug you," I tell him. "I'll even come to Dallas or Brooklyn or wherever you're playing next year."
And I get the cold shoulder.
But for the record, it was the one that just had the ice bag on it.