From Drew Garrison, Silver Screen & Roll: When Dwight Howard was sent from Disney World to Disney Land to the Los Angeles Lakers by the Orlando Magic it was a moment to behold for fans of the purple and gold. A glorious turning of the page. Andrew Bynum had done his part, helped the Lakers pick up two more stars for their new half-court logo, but was never the leviathan that was needed to lurk in the moat and protect the castle. Things haven’t exactly gone to plan, to say the least. Still, since All-Star break, Howard has look rejuvenated. Is it his diet, which he stated he adjusted to remove excess sugar out of? Is it as simple as his back surgery being such a hamstring that he, at times, looked like a cybernetic Kwame Brown at best as he turned the ball over and couldn’t defend the pick and roll? Is watching Kobe Bryant put on absolutely insane performances to pull the team out of the clutches of victory inspiring the big man?
From Janis Carr, OC Register: When Dwight Howard steps off the plane in Orlando, he can expect to feel a chill in the air. The dip in temperature will come from the thousands of cold shoulders that will fill the radio airwaves, Internet sites and Amway Arena seats when Orlando’s prodigal son returns Tuesday wearing a purple-and-gold No. 12 jersey. Howard played the first eight seasons of his career in central Florida, a place where he says he “grew up.” He still owns a home there, has many friends and favorite spots, like a certain Waffle House. But last season’s “Dwightmare” soured many in Orlando. The season-long soap opera featured his trade demands, a back injury, a fallout with then-coach Stan Van Gundy and his decision to waive his early-termination clause before the trade deadline, leading many to believe he wanted to stay.
From Mike Bresnahan, LA Times: Dwight Howard has a pretty good idea of what awaits Tuesday in Orlando when the Lakers play the Magic. It’ll be piercing and it’ll be angry, the antithesis of the Disney World city. ”I’m going to start listening to ‘boo’ tapes,” he said. The object of last season’s well-chronicled “Dwightmare” makes his grand return to the city he left to join the Lakers in a dramatic four-team trade last August. ”I’m looking forward to seeing my house,” Howard said. Anything else? ”I’m just looking forward to being back in Orlando. It’s a place where I spent my life up until now,” said Howard, who played his first eight NBA seasons there. “It’s going to be difficult to see things, but I’m happy that I’m in a better place now than I was the beginning of the season.”
From Elizabeth Benson, Lakers Nation: When Dwight Howard was finally traded from the Orlando Magic after nearly two years of the “Dwightmare” saga, things were supposed to calm down for the three-time Defensive Player of the Year. Under the extremely bright lights and daunting pressures of Los Angeles and being a Laker, the circus-like atmosphere around Dwight didn’t fade. Expectations went through the roof in Laker Land after the team acquired Howard and two-time MVP Steve Nash. The Lakers went from a team on the decline (ousted from the playoffs in the second round two years in a row) to Finals favorites quicker than a bite from a mamba (no, not Kobe). Dwight recently sat down with Sam Amick from USA Today, and discusses a wide array of topics. One of these topics regarded the idea of what was supposed to happen versus what has actually happened so far with the Lakers this season, in particular with his game with Nash.
From Lee Jenkins, Sports Illustrated: There is no comparing the 2010 Heat to the 2012 Lakers, a super team to a super tease, except Dwight Howard is heading back to Orlando and he, too, could use a few friends sprinkled among 20,000 enemies. Tuesday night will be difficult for Howard, who admittedly craves public approval, and will be received with nothing but scorn. The local newspaper put together a video set to the song “Forget You.” A local radio station made signs that read: “We’ll Never Forget You Daryl.” Perhaps the jeers will be a little louder because Howard called the Magic “a team full of people nobody wanted,” and perhaps the looks from the opposing bench will be dirtier. But the reaction was going to be brutal regardless. Howard can survive the boos and the chants, the signs and the tees, as long as Kobe Bryant and Steve Nash stand behind him.