Dwight Howard: “I’m still a champion. And I won’t let anyone tell me anything different.”

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There are times Dwight Howard says things — well-intended things — that just come off as his foot in his mouth.

He had one of those moments on the podium Wednesday night, after his Houston Rockets were eliminated from the playoffs by the Golden State Warriors. Here’s his answer on the difficulty of overcoming the injuries the Rockets’ had, as reported by Matt Moore of CBSSports.com’s Eye on Basketball.

“It’s tough, but I won’t stop fighting,” Howard said. “I’m going to continue to push myself to the limit and remember that, no matter how he season ends, I’m still a champion. And I won’t let anyone tell me anything different.”

 

I would like to think we can all cut Howard some slack on that statement, because it reads to me as he believed this team could win — and you want him to think that. I’d be worried if he didn’t believe his team could be a champion. Plus he had a strong series for Houston.

But we all know that’s not going to happen.

Howard is not a champion. He did lead the Orlando Magic to the Finals one year, but that’s not how he’s remembered. There are a lot of fans — many of them based in Los Angeles — who think he lacks the heart and passion to win it all. I’d argue that’s more about his teammates and health — one cannot will oneself to a title by himself. Michael Jordan needed Scottie Pippen and Horace Grant to get past the Bad Boy Pistons. But he couldn’t get along with Kobe Bryant and is a guy who wants the game to be fun.

His reputation isn’t going to change until he wins. For some, nobody’s a champion until they are. For Howard, he’s already there.