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[ESPN The Magazine] Sam Alipour talks to Dwight Howard on Hollywood, Rockets and leaving the Lakers

Discussion in 'Houston Rockets: Game Action & Roster Moves' started by J.R., Nov 4, 2014.

  1. J.R.

    J.R. Member

    Jun 30, 2008
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    [rQUOTEr]"We're thrilled you're here," says Matthew Perry, offering his hand to Dwight Howard, and the feeling is mutual. A year and change after leaving the Lakers for Houston, the Rockets' star center is back in L.A. on CBS Studios' Stage 15, and he's all smiles on set for an off-season taping of his cameo role in "The Odd Couple," the network's upcoming reboot of the beloved comedy that has been gracing stage and screen since 1965.

    In an episode tapped for early 2015, Howard will appear as himself in a party scene alongside the series' topliners, Perry (Oscar, a slovenly sports radio personality) and Thomas Lennon (Felix, Oscar's straitlaced roommate), who joined other cast and crew in making the former Laker feel welcome, despite his ill-fated season in purple and gold.


    ALIPOUR: Before your birth, The Odd Couple was a beloved play, film and TV series. Coming in, were you aware of its rich history?

    HOWARD: To be honest, no. But anytime they ask me to come on board, I come out and do the best I can. I love the camera and the energy. I love to watch the camera guys trying not to laugh. I enjoy all of it, like meeting Matthew Perry. I watched "Friends" a little bit, so when I met him, all I could think about was Chandler.

    ALIPOUR: You certainly looked comfortable on set, even improvising a line. I think we were the only two people on set who got your boomshakalaka drop.

    HOWARD: [Laughs] Yeah, nobody got it. They're like, "What's boomshakalaka?" C'mon, that's NBA Jam, one of the best video games ever! But I enjoy doing that. When I can be myself in front of a camera, making up some lines, I'm at my best.

    ALIPOUR: If you could have a role in a reboot of any classic TV series, which would you choose?

    HOWARD: This'll be a tough one to follow up, but I'd bring back "Martin." I just watched 50 episodes the other day on DVD. I'd have Paula Patton play Gina and I'd play Martin. I'd love to do his "Woo, woo, woo!"

    ALIPOUR: There are a lot of Lakers fans out here in Hollywood who remain, shall we say, displeased with your L.A. tenure. Do any of these showbiz types still give you crap?

    HOWARD: [Laughs] Naw, they're all professionals, and they understand it's a business. And the type of person I am, I don't let the stuff that happens with the NBA affect how I interact with people. For the most part, I haven't gotten any negativity. Some might say, "We wish you were here." My season with the Lakers didn't end like everybody wanted it to, but I had some good times in L.A. I wish things would have turned out differently, but everything happens for a reason.

    ALIPOUR: Last year you said you'd been working with a vocal coach to follow up your debut album "Shoot For The Stars" in 2010. Is it safe to say that singing is actually your primary pastime?

    HOWARD: [Laughs] I still enjoy singing. I've been working with a lot of new people. My girlfriend [gospel singer Christine Vest] and I sing together sometimes. I want to put out another album. I don't want to give it away, but you might see something in the next couple of years, some smooth R&B, more of like a Brian McKnight kind of sound. Not Carl Lewis doing the national anthem.

    ALIPOUR: Another summer highlight: your Instagram post on Harden's new look, hilariously captioned, "Why James Harden look like he bout to drop the hardest mixtape of 1658." How does it feel to ball alongside the most gangsta pilgrim on the planet?

    HOWARD: [Laughs] He does look like that! When I saw the picture, that's the first thing I thought of, and it had me laughing for literally five minutes. I almost got in a car accident, I was laughing so hard. He just looks so funny, like he used to hang with the pilgrims. I think James founded Thanksgiving! [Laughs] I got a lot of great mentions from that post.

    ALIPOUR: Moving on to your day job: the Rockets lost Chandler Parsons, Omer Asik, Jeremy Lin. How do you feel about the roster shake-up?

    HOWARD: I was very sad to see some of the guys go. We developed a friendship and chemistry. I've been around long enough to understand the business. Chandler and me, we hit it off from day one, and to see him leave was bittersweet. But I was happy for him because he got paid.

    ALIPOUR: So I take it you want a do-over on a comment from this offseason, when you were quoted as saying Parsons' absence "won't affect us at all"?

    HOWARD: That was the only thing that was reported. What wasn't reported was the fact that we're gonna miss Chandler a lot. The other part of that is, as sad as I am about him leaving, I have to be as confident as possible, to show the other guys on my team that no matter what, I got your back. If they see a sign of weakness coming from their leader, that's when they're not at their best.

    ALIPOUR: After a first-round exit, and perhaps because of misinterpretations like that one and what Harden said this summer about the Rockets' role-players, many feel there's now a lot of pressure on you and Harden to quickly evolve into a sort of Shaq-Kobe combo and lead the Rockets into June. Is that expectation fair at this juncture?

    HOWARD: Well, it took Shaq and Kobe a while.

    ALIPOUR: Four years and the arrival of Phil Jackson.

    HOWARD: Right, but in this day and age, there's no such thing as time. Everybody wants things to happen now. They don't understand the importance of building chemistry, but we do, and we can't allow the pressure to get to us. This year will be good for us because we understand that in order for us to win, James and I have to push each other. More importantly, we have to push the rest of the guys to be better.

    ALIPOUR: So for anybody who's calling this a legacy season for you, a win-now situation, given your recent history, clearly you'd disagree?

    HOWARD: This is the way I look at it: Everybody is saying rings, rings, rings. Rings don't make you a great person. Rings don't do that for you. I want to win a ring. I want to win more than one. But if I don't win a ring, the thing that will last longer than any championship is changing people's lives, making an impact on our society. I've been blessed to play basketball. I'm 28, been doing this for 11 years now, and where I grew up, being here today, it's a blessing.

    ALIPOUR: Still, given the pieces around you, give me the keys, on offense and defense, for your boys to make some noise in the playoffs.

    HOWARD: I think the biggest thing for us is that we go out and play hard every single night ...

    ALIPOUR: C'mon now, don't give me that old "play hard" line.

    HOWARD: Naw, but it's the truth. See, everybody says to me: When are you gonna try to score more, when you gonna block more shots, do all of this stuff? You know what, I'm gonna give the best effort I can every night. When you put expectations on yourself and others, that's when you tend to fail. If you go out there and be who you are, that's when good things happen.

    ALIPOUR: Last season we saw the DH12 of old. What's one thing you worked on this offseason that might lead to a new, improved you?

    HOWARD: The biggest thing is that I'm a lot healthier. Last two years, first dealing with the back surgery -- people were acting like a back surgery is a busted pimple. But the back surgery was super, super hard to get over, and during that time I ended up tearing my labrum. So everybody said: Play through the pain. That's more than pain, that's an actual injury, and I tried to play through it. But I'm healed up, a lot better now, and I'm looking forward to the season.

    ALIPOUR: For almost two years, your reputation, as far as public perception, took a serious beating. How much did that hurt you?

    HOWARD: My life is always positive, no matter what's going on around me. A lot of people looked at the situations with L.A. and Orlando and they only see the negative. There's nothing I can do about it but continue to be me, continue to have fun on the floor. I haven't changed since Orlando. I'm the same guy: I love to have fun, but I take the game very seriously. Hang around me for two weeks and you'll see how serious I am about basketball. I wake up at 7 every morning, do three workouts per day, nonstop, and when I'm off the court I'm with my family, I go to church and I try to make people's lives better. But people wouldn't see that. They'd only see negative. Which is understandable.

    ALIPOUR: Fair enough, but you must know that if you drop that album, we're definitely gonna get on you again.

    HOWARD: [Laughs] If you get on me for that album, that's totally fine, because one thing I've learned from all of this is you gotta live your life. You only have one life. If you don't live it the way you want to live it, you'll regret it later. I don't want to be that 60-year-old who has regrets because I lived my life based on what other people said about me. I wouldn't wish that on anybody.

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  2. RoxBeliever

    RoxBeliever Member

    Nov 1, 2009
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    HOWARD: Right, but in this day and age, there's no such thing as time. Everybody wants things to happen now. They don't understand the importance of building chemistry, but we do, and we can't allow the pressure to get to us. This year will be good for us because we understand that in order for us to win, James and I have to push each other. More importantly, we have to push the rest of the guys to be better.

    I like this part the best.
  3. RV6

    RV6 Contributing Member

    Aug 21, 2008
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