How Dwight Howard Can Follow LeBron James' Road to Redemption

Stephen BabbFeatured ColumnistSeptember 18, 2012

EL SEGUNDO, CA - AUGUST 10:  Dwight Howard speaks after being introduced to the media as the newest member of the Los Angeles Lakers during a news conference at the Toyota Sports Center on August 10, 2012 in El Segundo, California. The Lakers aquired Howard from Orlando Magic in a four-team trade. In addition Lakers wil receive Chris Duhon and Earl Clark from the Magic.  (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

Dwight Howard has kicked off his "Forgive Me for Everything Tour" with the latest in a long, sordid line of reasons to absolutely detest him.

And this one's another classic.

If The Onion were parodying the things D12 might say, it couldn't make up the stuff spewing from his mouth to Ric Bucher's ears. It was the most painful indication yet that this guy is nowhere close to embarking upon the kind of successful mea culpa campaign that warmed so many fans to ex-villain LeBron James.

Here's the best (or is it worst?) part (via ESPN staff):

"I don't have any regrets, you know. I think everything happened the way that it was meant to happen," Howard said Saturday in an interview with ESPN The Magazine senior writer Ric Bucher. "I really just wish some of the lies and some of the things being said didn't come out the way it did, you know."

No regrets? Really? You wouldn't just be saying that to make yourself look guilt-free when even the most charitable onlookers know better?

You wouldn't be lying to yourself in a way only the most delusional, agent-puffed celebrities can?

For Howard's sake, I hope he is because there's something utterly nauseating about the notion that, "everything happened the way that it was meant to happen." Meant by whom?

We can only assume he means that things happened the way he meant for them to happen—with him in L.A., his ex-coach and general manager fired and the team that drafted him rebuilding after getting pennies on the dollar for his services.

Of course, the Orlando Magic might have gotten more for Howard had he not artificially narrowed his market of suitors by crossing 27 of the league's 30 teams off his wish list.

But here's the kicker.

Dwight says he finds "some of the lies and some of the things being said" are unfortunate.

Which lies might those be? You can't just point the finger at everyone who doesn't happen to be wearing a Superman cape. You can't insinuate that all your detractors are fibbing while carelessly allowing people to draw their own conclusions.

Did Stan Van Gundy lie about the fact that you wanted the front office to fire him? Did his source lie to him? And if so, why would either of them have a motive to fabricate such a thing?

Surely, Howard doesn't really believe Van Gundy would have gone public with that information without having good reason to believe it was true. Surely, he's just banking on the public's willingness to ignore the information at hand and how it emerged, instead believing that a guy with a smile like his can do no wrong.

Then there's a line that just might make you feel sorry for Dwight if you somehow forgot about the 50 trillion things that are harder than what he just went through: 

"I never wanted anybody to hate me, you know. I wanted everybody to love me, you know, like me, for sticking around and doing what they wanted me to do. And making everybody else happy. And that was a valuable lesson for me, you know.

"I can't make everybody happy."


It's true that Howard waffled on his trade demands a few times, but that lends more credence to the belief that he was maneuvering his way to the team of his choice than it does to some far-fetched empathy for his fans.

If he cared one iota for either his fans or teammates, he wouldn't have kicked off the 2011-12 season with public trade demands.

He wouldn't have torpedoed the organization's ability to expedite that trade by being so incredibly picky about where he'd be traded.

And he sure wouldn't be telling the world he has no regrets about how it all went down.

Howard should take a note from LeBron James, and that's really saying something given that his departure from Cleveland was hardly a painless affair. At the very least, James had the decency to kind of, sort of, express regret for his mess of The Decision to ESPN's Rachel Nichols (via USA Today's Tom Weir):

"If I could look back on it I would probably change a lot of it. The fact of having a whole TV special, and people getting the opportunity to watch me make a decision on where I wanted to play, I probably would change that. Because I can now look and see if the shoe was on the other foot and I was a fan, and I was very passionate about one player, and he decided to leave, I would be upset too about the way he handled it."

Is that LeBron James empathizing, albeit it after the fact? Is he admitting that even great players sometimes do bad things—that they're (gasp) human and flawed?

Indeed it is.

It's James proving that he's big enough to take ownership over a situation that was badly mismanaged. It's James finally deciding that the critics really aren't to blame, and that this isn't just an unfortunate instance of not being able to make everyone happy.

Instead of the "Aw, shucks" disingenuous nonsense for which Howard's become so fond, LeBron's compunction was absolutely refreshing.

It's too bad Dwight had to come along and remind us of what happens before PR teams train these egos to say all the right things.

For now, the things he's saying couldn't be more wrong.