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Dwight Howard grateful for new opportunity to prove himself with Washington Wizards

The last few seasons have been nomadic for former All-Star center Dwight Howard. By signing with the Washington Wizards this summer (after he was traded by the Charlotte Hornets to the Brooklyn Nets and then waived), Howard will suit up for his fifth team in seven seasons once 2018-19 begins.

Through it all, Howard has tried to keep his trademark sense of humor about him and delivered an epic line about his career in his introductory news conference yesterday: “I learned Magic for eight years. Traveled to La La Land. Learned how to work with Rockets. And then I went and learned how to fly with some Hawks. Got stung by the Hornets. Just a joke. But through all of that, it’s taught me how to be a Wizard.”

In all seriousness, though, Howard is embracing another fresh start with the hopes he can turn around perceptions about his career by playin alongside Wizards All-Star guards John Wall and Bradley Beal. Candace Buckner of The Washington Post has more on Howard’s signing and his outlook on his future:

“Thank you to Ernie [Grunfeld],” Howard said, “and thanks for believing in me as a player and wanting me here in D.C.”

“Before I got here, everybody was giving out opinions on how I am as a player and as a person,” Howard said, “and for [Grunfeld] not to listen to those opinions and thoughts of others, for him to come up with his own judgment, that’s why I wanted to say that because it means a lot to me. My whole life I’ve had people always doubting me and say bad things, as people say, ‘hate on’ me. But for some people to not allow other people’s opinions and thoughts to affect their decisions, that meant a lot.”

Howard said he had been contacted by the two-time defending champion Golden State Warriors, but he wasn’t as moved as hearing directly from a five-time all-star point guard. Earlier this month, Wall revealed that Howard had previously talked about teaming up one day. The idea of the broad-shouldered big man setting screens and rolling to the rim for a delivery from a lightning-quick guard seemed enticing years ago. Wall’s Instagram invitation sealed the deal.

“After he said that, I’m like, ‘Bro, I’m with it,’ ” Howard said. “No disrespect to any of the point guards I played with in my career — John is a different type of animal. The way he passes the ball, the way he draws so much attention with his aggressiveness on the offensive end, it’s going to make things very difficult for teams to really guard the pick and roll. At this point in John’s career it’s about one thing, and that’s winning.”

Howard’s circuitous journey, from perennial all-star and potential Hall of Famer with the Magic to a basketball castoff trying to learn new sorcery, continues in the District. Howard said he plans to play another “good eight years” and hopes to write his own ending.

“All of us have something to prove, and we want to do it together,” Howard said of his Wizards teammates. “I feel like this city and this team is a place where I want to end my career.”

Last season, Howard ranked third in the NBA in rebounds per game (12.5), fourth in double-doubles (53), ninth in blocks (1.6) and 11th in field-goal percentage (55.5 percent). Howard’s most impressive game of the 2017-18 season came on March 21 (ironically enough, vs. Brooklyn), when he finished with 32 points and a career-high 30 rebounds in a comeback win against the Nets.

However, Howard struggled to mesh with Charlotte’s guards, and the Hornets failed to make the playoffs despite what former coach Steve Clifford considered the team’s most talented roster in half a decade.

After spending the first eight seasons of his career in Orlando, Howard has played for the Los Angeles Lakers (2012-13), the Houston Rockets (2013-16), the Hawks (2016-17) and the Hornets (2017-18) since then.