Dwight Howard surprises fans at LAX, talks Lakers’ health

Lakers center Dwight Howard makes boarding announcements at a Delta Air Lines counter before Flight 1553 to Honolulu on Thursday.
(Eric Pincus / Los Angeles Times)
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Dwight Howard made a surprise visit to LAX on Thursday, working the check-in counter at Delta Air Lines and taking boarding passes at a gate.

The Lakers center made all the boarding announcements for Flight 1553 to Honolulu. He also ran a trivia contest as he and a trio of Laker Girls gave out memorabilia as prizes.

“I am part of Delta, the team. They are the official airline for the Laker Girls and the Lakers,” said Howard. “This is a great experience for me to come out and enjoy L.A.”


But what’s his future with Delta in July?

“Will I re-sign with Delta? That’s a good one,” Howard responded with a wide grin.

The Lakers (36-33) play the Washington Wizards on Friday night. Both Pau Gasol and Kobe Bryant are expected to play. Gasol has been out for more than six weeks with a foot injury. Bryant has missed two games with a sprained ankle that forced him to sit after playing 12 minutes in another game.

“It’s going to be great with everybody back. We’re getting healthy,” said Howard. “We’ve played with injuries all year and for us we’ve stayed together.”

He also noted that it’s been difficult for players like Earl Clark, Antawn Jamison and Metta World Peace to back up Howard at center since they’re all closer to the size of small forwards rather than power forwards.

“It’s great to have another big body out there,” he said. “We had a lot of guys who were playing out of position.”

The Lakers, sitting in eight place and the final playoff position in the Western Conference, have 13 games left. Only a few games separate them from finishing as high as sixth or as low as 11th place.

“With Kobe, Pau, myself, Steve Nash and Metta, we’ve only had one game together,” said Howard. “So I think this is going to be great for us going into the playoffs.”


While he wouldn’t make any bold NCAA tournament predictions, Howard noted he’s pulling for some schools on behalf of his teammates: Gonzaga for Robert Sacre and Louisville for Earl Clark.

“It’s all about the Lakers, baby,” said Howard, who joined the NBA right out of high school.

Howard also gave his thoughts on the Miami Heat, who have won 24 consecutive games, potentially threatening the 1971-72 Lakers’ record 33-game winning streak.

“We don’t want them to break that,” Howard said. “Those guys came back last night from 27 [against the Cleveland Cavaliers]. That’s impressive. They’re having a great season.”


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