Dwight Howard admits he learned lessons of LeBron decision too late

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There were lessons to be learned out of how LeBron James handled leaving Cleveland for the Miami Heat. A long list of what not to do. One was the pitfalls of hubris and that not everything can be spun positively.

Another was that people are going to hate you for that kind of move, and you have to accept that and not let it influence you.

Dwight Howard didn’t learn the second lesson until it was too late. Way too late. It was obvious to those of us on the outside, but Howard didn’t seem to get it.

Now he does. Howard sat down with ESPN’s Ric Bucher for an interview (check out Sunday night’s SportsCenter) and admitted as much.

“That’s one of the lessons that I learned, you know. I can’t make everybody happy,” Howard told Bucher…

“And it was a tug of war between my feelings and the fans and everybody else and their feelings and what happened to LeBron. And I saw him — everybody hated him for leaving Cleveland and what he did,” Howard said… “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.”

Well, duh.

It was a lesson that cost him a lot in public relations to learn. It was a lesson he should have known going in but he didn’t really study the history of how forcing your way out of a team was done.

LeBron was first but it was really Carmelo Anthony’s playbook that Howard followed… up until he wanted everyone to like him and waived his ability to opt out of his deal this summer (essentially removing his leverage to get traded at the deadline). It was a disaster. Howard wanted everyone to like him, and Howard just seemed to be going through the motions — “All the other superstars are switching teams, I guess I should, too.”

Howard goes on to say the only things he can say: I learned my lesson and I’m looking forward.

“I don’t have any regrets, you know. I think everything happened the way that it was meant to happen,” Howard said… “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.

“But I have an opportunity to do something great here in L.A, and I can’t look back and think about everything that’s behind me.”

Howard’s next one is something LeBron and Kobe Bryant have already learned — you can bounce back from PR disasters if you win.

Mavericks’ rookie guard Dennis Smith Jr. misses game with knee swelling

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DALLAS (AP) — Dallas Mavericks rookie point guard Dennis Smith Jr. missed Friday’s game against the Sacramento Kings with swelling in his left knee.

Smith, the ninth pick in the NBA draft out of North Carolina State, had 16 points and 10 assists in the Mavericks’ season-opening loss to the Atlanta Hawks.

Smith participated in the Mavericks’ shootaround on Friday morning and was a late scratch. It is not known if Smith will play Saturday for Dallas.

The Mavericks were also missing guard Devin Harris, who was granted leave of absence after his brother died on Thursday.

Watch Lonzo Ball’s 29 point, 11 rebound, 9 assist game Friday night

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This was more of what fans expected from Lonzo Ball.

After a rough first game against the Clippers — with Patrick Beverley in his face all night — Ball found plenty of room to operate against the soft defense of the Phoenix Suns. With room to operate Ball had 29 points, 11 rebounds, and nine assists — just one assist short of a triple-double. He helped the Lakers pull away to a lead in the third then hold on for a 132-130 win over the Suns.

Ball wasn’t terribly efficient, 12-of-27 shooting, but he was 4-of-9 from three, he played with great pace, he was decisive, and was finding guys with his passes. It was a step forward, even if it was against a sad defense (Eric Bledsoe can be a good defender, but he has seemed disinterested in recent years).

Ball and the Lakers are going to be up and down this season, the goal is for there to be more ups near the end of the season.

LeBron James rejects Giannis Antetokounmpo at the rim

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Through the first couple games of the season, Giannis Antetokounmpo has put up impressive numbers — he dropped 34 points, 8 rebounds, and 8 assists on the Cavaliers Friday night.

But the Cavaliers still have LeBron James.

He had 24 points and 8 assists, leading Cleveland to the win.

LeBron also reminded the Greek Freak just how good a rim protector he is. Few people can slow Antetokounmpo on the drive, but LeBron is one of them.

Is it too early to root for a Cavs vs. Bucks playoff series?

Hawks’ DeAndre’ Bembry out with fractured wrist

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In their season opener Wednesday, Atlanta second-year man DeAndre’ Bembry came off the bench and played 17:45, scored six points and was +13 on the night. It was a good start to his career.

But now he is going to miss some time with a fractured wrist.

Bembry underwent an MRI, which revealed a fracture in his right wrist, the Hawks announced Friday. He will return to Atlanta with the team (the Hawks lost to the Hornets Friday night) and will meet with team doctors at the Emory Orthopaedics & Spine Center on Monday. His status will be updated after that.

“We just may play some other guys more, we may use some of the young guys,” Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer told the AP before Friday night’s game. “We’ll just figure it out tonight and as we move forward. I don’t think there’s anything guaranteed for anybody, it’s unfortunate for DeAndre’ and for us.”