The Los Angeles Lakers will make their lone trip to the city of Orlando Tuesday night for a game against the lowly Magic. Even though the matchup is nothing to look forward to, it will be the first time center Dwight Howard plays a game in Orlando since leaving the team over the summer.
Howard was involved in trade rumors for about two seasons and the drama circulating his future left the Magic franchise in an uncomfortable situation. Howard’s Magic teammates were not sure if the star would remain in the city for the long term and it led to great tension in the locker room.
There is no question Howard did not leave the city of Orlando on the right terms and he spoke to USA Today to apologize for the way he departed for Los Angeles.
“In Orlando, I handled a lot of stuff the wrong way,” he said, sitting at his kitchen table. “If any of those people in Orlando are upset with how I did it, I apologize for the way I handled it and the way it was handled in the media.
“I really just got caught up in wanting to please everybody else. I really love that city. That was the hardest thing to do was to leave that city because I basically grew up there. That was my whole life. Orlando was it. I did not want to leave all that behind — the city, just everything about it. The fans. But I wanted a change for my life. I just felt like there was something else out there for me.”
Howard wanted to go to a franchise that he felt was poised to win an NBA championship, and the Lakers fit that criteria. Even though the Magic made it to the 2009 NBA Finals, the team had trouble contending in the Eastern Conference ever since. The Lakers were determined to acquire the All-Star center and although the team has just entered the playoff picture, the talent on this team is astonishing.
Fans in Orlando may have felt betrayed after the “Dwightmare,” but it seems as though Howard is truly apologetic for the way he left the city.
VIDEO: Lakers Nation chats with USA Today’s Sam Amick about his interview