Dwight Howard has a well-chronicled history of on- and off-court antics that have led to a negative perception among fans and the media.
All signs indicate the 12-year veteran will opt out of his contract this offseason with the Houston Rockets to become a free agent for the second time in four years, per Sam Amick of USA Today, prompting more criticism about his commitment and drive to win a championship.
Yet the outside noise seemingly doesn’t faze the three-time Defensive Player of the Year, as Howard indicated, per Calvin Watkins of ESPN.com:
Doesn't matter. I know who I am. I know what I've done in my career so no need to focus on anything negative. I have a great life and I'm blessed beyond measure. It doesn't matter, they can talk as much as they want but I know how hard I work to get to where I am today. So I'm very thankful about that.
In his heyday with the Orlando Magic, Howard was one of the NBA’s most likable characters for his humorous off-court bravado coupled with his on-court leadership that culminated with a 2009 NBA Finals appearance.
But his eventual divorce with Orlando after eight seasons—which was lengthy and dramatic—was the first proverbial blemish to his character, particularly after former head coach Stan Van Gundy revealed to reporters that Howard tried to have him fired.
Howard was finally traded to the Los Angeles Lakers before the 2012-13 campaign but openly clashed with head coach Mike D’Antoni and Kobe Bryant. After he left for the Rockets in free agency that summer, an ESPN.com report by Ramona Shelburne and Marc Stein surfaced claiming Howard refused to re-sign with L.A. if the team didn’t trade Bryant, the incumbent icon of the illustrious franchise.
Howard’s unfavorable reputation extends past fans and media, though, as players have openly chirped at the eight-time All-Star.
During a November 2014 game against the Oklahoma City Thunder, Kevin Durant had some unsavory words for Howard in an on-court clash, per Anthony Slater of the Oklahoman, and LaMarcus Aldridge had a similar spat with Howard in a game the season prior, per Jason McIntyre of The Big Lead.
Howard’s talent is unquestionable, but continued instances that have revealed a lack of mutual respect among players and the media have likely been the catalyst for his unsympathetic standing among NBA fans.