Dwight Howard Says He 'Never' Wanted to Join Lakers Before 2012 Trade

Adam WellsOctober 6, 2022

PHOENIX, AZ - APRIL 5: Dwight Howard #39 of the Los Angeles Lakers walks on to the court before the game against the Phoenix Suns on April 5, 2022 at Footprint Center in Phoenix, Arizona. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2022 NBAE (Photo by Barry Gossage/NBAE via Getty Images)
Barry Gossage/NBAE via Getty Images

Just over 10 years after he was first acquired by the Los Angeles Lakers, Dwight Howard has opened up about the memorable trade that sent him from the Orlando Magic to L.A.

Appearing on the All the Smoke podcast (starts at 35:10 mark), Howard said the "crazy part" about the entire saga was he "never wanted to go to" the Lakers."

"I didn't wanna go to L.A., because I figured, like, people was gonna compare me to Shaq, and I was trying to follow in Shaq's footsteps. Start with the Magic, go to L.A., be in Hollywood. I wanted to go to L.A. to do movies and all that. ... I just didn't want people thinking I was trying to do that," he added.

Howard's assessment that he never wanted to play for the Lakers is strange, at least based on reporting done prior to the August 2012 trade.

In December 2011, Chris Broussard, then working for ESPN The Magazine, reported the Lakers were one of four teams Howard was willing to give a long-term commitment to. The Magic, Brooklyn Nets and Dallas Mavericks were the others.

Per the same report from Marc Stein and Chad Ford, the Nets entered "serious talks" with the Magic on a multiteam deal for the eight-time All-Star.

Despite requesting a trade early in the 2011-12 season, Howard waived the opt-out clause in his contract prior to the trade deadline to stay with the Magic for at least one more season. That led to the infamous moment in April 2012 when Howard surprised head coach Stan Van Gundy with a hug during a press conference as Van Gundy was telling reporters the veteran center wanted him fired.

During the summer of 2012, Howard again requested a trade and said he would only sign a long-term extension with one team that was believed to be the Nets.

When no deal with the Nets materialized, the Magic sent Howard to Los Angeles as part of a four-team trade that also involved the Philadelphia 76ers and the Denver Nuggets.

Howard's first stint with the Lakers was a mess, and it only lasted one season. Kobe Bryant made it no secret he felt like Howard wasn't fully committed to doing what was necessary to win a championship.

Time did heal some of the wounds between Howard and the Lakers. He returned to the team for the 2019-20 season, helping them win an NBA title. The 36-year-old spent the 2020-21 campaign with the Sixers before signing with Los Angeles for a third stint in August 2021.