In his first seven seasons in the NBA, Dwight Howard never missed more than four games in a campaign. He’s joked about switching from DC to Marvel, changing his nickname from Superman to Iron Man. (I’m not sure Tony Starks is the guy you want to model your life after, but that’s another debate.)
Up until last year Iron Man was appropriate. And while some commentators — and some fans — wanted to tie Howard’s poorly-handed trade demands to him missing a dozen games last season, that didn’t make sense. Not if you had really watched him in previous years. Howard played through back spasms and other pains last season because he didn’t want to be seen as quitting on his team.
But things got too serious. Howard explained just how serious to the Los Angeles Times.
“What a lot of people don’t know is when I hurt my back, it affected my nerves to the point where my whole left leg just went dead basically,” the Lakers center said Thursday. “I couldn’t do a calf raise.”
After undergoing surgery in April for a herniated disk, Howard said it took about two months before he could lift his calf off the ground. He was told he would recover fully in about five months but received solid feedback in August.
Howard seems on a road back for a full recovery, reports out of Lakers training camp is that he is moving well. We will see if the grind of the season changes things.
I think has fans we tend to combine things — we hate how Howard handled getting traded out of Orlando, so we magnify his flaws and issues and make him seem a bigger risk than he really is to the Lakers. While the risk of injury hoovers over every NBA player, Howard’s history should earn him a pass on thinking his back issue is chronic already.