Amid all the boos and personal insults hurled his way, Dwight Howard kept smiling.
He had spent his lone season with the Lakers in endless frustration for reasons involving his health (back, right shoulder) and role (personality conflicts with Kobe Bryant, philosophical differences with coach Mike D’Antoni). But as Howard weathered the negative backlash all season stemmed from his hasty departure from the Orlando Magic, Howard reveled in the jeers and even engaged with the fans who spewed venom at him.
That happened both when the Lakers visited Orlando and on several road games where his reputation stayed poor. But with the Lakers (18-35) hosting the Houston Rockets (36-17) tonight at Staples Center, Howard said he won’t adopt the same approach toward the Laker fans eager to yell an earful about leaving the purple and gold.
“I just want to play my game,” Howard said Wednesday following Rockets’ shootaround at UCLA. “We talked about what happened when I came back to Orlando and I got into it with some fans and some old teammates. There’s no need for that. This is a business and just play basketball. My decision had nothing to do with the fans or anything like that. They have to understand that. It’s not about them and the season went. I just had to do what’s best for me.”