Dwight Howard Contract Extension Press Conference Transcript

July 12, 2007

Otis Smith:
“I would like to thank everybody for coming out again. It is not often that you get to put the centerpiece in your franchise that is going to be in your franchise for a long time. Doing this deal was probably anticipated a year ago – trying to get a big fellow – and we have a big fellow that we want to be part of the Orlando Magic family until he retires from basketball.”

Dwight Howard:
“First I wanted to thank God for everything He has blessed me with. Also to have my family here today is a great honor. I would also like to thank Rich DeVos and Bob Vander Weide, the whole Magic staff, Otis Smith, our new coach, Mr. Van Gundy. I want to thank all of you guys – this is a very special day in my life, probably one of the biggest days of my life so far. It has been a long time to get to this point, but I am glad it is here. It is one step for me, one step for the Magic, and hopefully there will be many more days like this one in my life. And again, I would like to thank God for this opportunity.”

On what he thinks of Otis wanting him here until he retires…
“I always said I wanted to be here until I retire myself. Me and Mickey Mouse will be here forever. I am very excited about re-signing with the Magic and I want to be here until I retire. There is no other place that I want to be besides in Orlando.”

On teaming up with Rashard Lewis next year…
“I am very excited. Rashard is a great player, and I am glad he is on our team. He is going to do a lot of great things for us and this is another step in the right direction for the Magic. My goal is to win a championship and we just added a great piece to our team that is going to help us get to that level.”

On what he feels he needs to do next year to step up his game…
“I know that if I just go out there every day like I have been trying to do, play extremely hard in practice and in the game, and do all the things on and off the court, we are going to be very successful. The Magic are doing a great job as an organization – we are heading in the right direction, but it is going to take each player to do all the things off the court to become better on the court.”

On what his new responsibilities will be next year…
“I would say to be an even bigger leader than I was last year. Also, just take responsibility for all my actions. They have put me in a great position, and I am going to do the best I can as an individual to help the Magic grow and especially to help Orlando as a community grow.”

On if Orlando has seen his full capabilities yet…
“Orlando has really seen just a little bit of Dwight Howard. There are a lot of things that I need to do to get better. I don’t really think I have scratched the surface of the things I know I am capable of doing, but each year and each game is an experience for me. And really I am just so excited right now, it’s hard to explain.”

On if he feels pressure for signing the new contract…
“I don’t really think it is pressure. Pressure is something that you can’t handle. God didn’t give me big shoulders for nothing, so I feel I can handle a lot of pressure. I am just very excited, and hopefully I can continue the things I have been doing as a Magic player and make sure to be even better this year.”

On his off season workout regimen…
“I have been in the gym every day. Probably you can find me on the other side (in the RDV Sportsplex gym) playing with everybody else. That is what I love doing is playing basketball. I am always in the gym, really trying to work on my confidence in shooting jump shots. Hopefully next year, coach will let me bring it down the court and do some pick-and-rolls.”

On if he has spoken to Ewing since he was hired as an assistant coach…
“I haven’t really had a chance to sit down and talk with him yet, but I know he is one of the best players (to play) in the NBA and I look forward to having him coach me.”

On if he is surprised that Grant Hill and Darko Milicic are no longer with the team…
“I am, but I wish those guys the best with their new teams. It will be fun playing against them, especially Darko. They are good players; I wish they were still with the team, but I think Otis is doing a great job in his role as general manager to make us better.”

Stan Van Gundy
On if small ball is the way to go…
“I think a lot of people think that’s the way the league is headed, but I just think, I guess that when I want to see where the league is really headed I turn on the NBA finals. You know, the last two years have been Duncan and Shaq, and like I said yesterday, to me it is the most tried and true formula in this league, that you have a great big man to build around and then you add a great perimeter player. There are other formulas that have worked, Detroit got it done one time, you know Chicago got it done a lot – though we would all agree that Michael Jordan, there aren’t a lot of him running around out there, so that was sort of a different thing. But the most tried and true formula is still that you get a great big man in the middle and you build around him, so that’s what we are doing here and I think it is the way to go, no question about it.”

On how he wants to use Dwight, more facing the basket or on the low post…
“I think both. Obviously I think he is one of the best inside players in this league, but I think it is reasonable to expect that you have such a young player and his game will improve every year. I know that’s what he wants. He’s already talked to me about being able to face the basket a little bit more and things like that. I think as your game expands, you are always willing as a coach to let people do the things that they can do well. I think when it’s game time in the NBA, it is not the time to experiment. But the things that they can do well and spend their off-season developing, you certainly want their games to expand. I think the one thing, out of all the comments that I have read about Dwight, good and bad, I think the one thing that people sort of miss is how good he his at this age. I mean, just go back and try to find me people that at his age have been as good, and then just look at the career graph of big guys – they are going to keep improving, always have. Their peak is sort of somewhere at 29-30, so there is a lot of development (still to come) for him over the years, and as good as he is already, he is going to get even better, and you are going to see more and more things all the time.”

Otis Smith:
On how Otis feels about the franchise…
“I feel pretty good. You don’t start a franchise and are going to make a run at championships… you have to have a big guy in the middle. Coach talked about the great perimeter players, and I feel very good about the opportunity to sign a big guy for a long period of time. You know, I say it all the time, you have to have the right formula and the right people around and you have to start with the big guy. Having him in the middle and putting Rashard on the wing and you still have Turk(oglu) and Jameer. Those things are a good formula to win basketball games at this point. The thing with Dwight is, he has to continue to work extremely hard like he does already and understand that we are expecting him to lift us up to that level. So there is a lot that goes with it, and you add a little more to those broad shoulders that he’s capable of handling and that’s what we’re giving him.”

Dwight Howard:
On if it was always a sure thing that Dwight was going to re-sign with the Magic…
“There was no question. I wish I could have signed last year, but I had to wait for the right moment in time to sign.”

On if it has set in that he is 21years old and doing what he loves…
“Life is great, but it really is not about the money. I want to win a championship; that has always been my goal with basketball. If we could win a championship, that would make me even happier.”

On how much Dwight thinks Rashard will help him…
“Rashard’s a great player. He can drive, he can shoot from the outside, he can do everything. He will be a great help.”

On what he has been doing all summer…
“I’ve been playing ball. I’ve been playing all summer, trying to work on my game and play ball. So I’ve been playing ball all summer, and playing basketball is a sacrifice to play it the way I love it and staying on the court all the time trying to get better.”

On if Rashard will help him with his free throws…
“Actually, you know me and Rashard became friends back then when we played each other in Seattle. Every time I would shoot free throws, he would say gooseneck, and I was like why is Rashard helping me with my game, he must want me to make them. So after that we kind of clicked and we talked after that and I’m just happy that he wanted to come to the Magic.”

On if Otis is close to signing any more free agents…
“No, we’re not close. We’re still talking a little bit and we keep looking and we will continue to search and look for guys that can help us.”