Denton: Dwight Speaks Out About Time in Orlando and Reasons For Wanting to Leave (Part 2)


By John Denton
December 2, 2012

In a rare glimpse of nostalgic feelings, Howard admitted to being immensely proud of how he helped to build the Magic franchise into a championship contender earlier in the decade.

``(Leaving the Magic) was very tough and I’m glad that it’s over with. I’m happy where I’m at. (Los Angeles) is a great place to be, and a great city, and I have an opportunity to do a lot of special things here as I did in Orlando,’’ he said. ``So the opportunities that I had in Orlando, I have the same ones here. The biggest thing is bringing the fans together.

``I thought me and (Magic point guard) Jameer (Nelson) did a good job of turning a franchise that nobody cared about to come to games and support the team,’’ he continued. ``It was a franchise where we had sellouts every night, so we came a long way in Orlando. Now, we have that opportunity here in L.A. and I want to do whatever I can.’’

Howard said he will always consider Orlando to be ``home,’’ and he stressed that he misses several things about life in Central Florida. Howard said he will keep his house in suburban Orlando and will live there during the summers so that he can enjoy favorite places such as Waffle House, the Altamonte Mall, Disney World and Rollins College.

But the overriding reason behind his departure from the Magic, Howard said, was his thirst to win a championship. He said getting close in 2009 and 2010 – when he got the Magic to the NBA Finals and Eastern Conference Finals in consecutive years – has only strengthened his desire to win a NBA crown.

And while he said it upset him having to divorce himself from the Magic and the Orlando fan base, Howard, 26, said his decision to leave ultimately came to being where he thought he had the best chance to win. And Howard, who can become an unrestricted free agent in July, even hinted that if he didn’t think he could win in L.A., he would move on from Southern California in the summer.

``You only get one shot. People might not ever understand that, but at the end of the day it’s not their life. You can’t let anybody else dictate how they want your life to be,’’ he said. ``I only have one shot to play and do something that I love. Not everybody is blessed and have an opportunity to do what they love.

``So I want to do it the best that I can and I’m going to take everything in I can to get what I can out of the NBA. Which, for me, is winning a championship,’’ he added. ``So if I have to play on another team or do whatever I have to do to get one, that’s my goal. This is my passion, so I’ll continue to fight.’

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