Charles Barkley asked Dwight Howard why people don’t like him in fascinating interview

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It wasn’t quite as good as the game that preceded it, but Inside the NBA was must-watch television Tuesday night when Dwight Howard sat in Shaquille O’Neal’s chair postgame.

Charles Barkley directly asked Howard why people don’t like him. Howard pointed back to his ugly exit when he awkwardly forced his way out of Orlando.

“I think I was very likable in Orlando, and the way that situation ended, I think people felt as though I’m just this bad guy.”

I think Howard underestimates how much his play with the Lakers — in part due to his back issues that season — and his play in Houston impacted his perception, fair or not.

Howard called out Barkley saying the retired star told Howard he would never be a star in the league, and Magic Johnson told him he’d never make the NBA. Barkley has long been one of Howard’s more public critics.

Barkley also asked him about his “disinterested” play in Houston. Howard threw that back towards James Harden.

“I’m always interested in winning. But as a big, sometimes you want to feel a part of what’s going on. If I could bring the ball up the court, got between the legs, shoot threes and all those things, that would be great. But i have to rely on my teammates in certain aspects to get the ball. Now, there’s been times when I’ve been upset and taking myself out of games and situations, and that’s on me.”

This tied into a discussion of if the big man is extinct in the NBA, and Howard said it’s a matter of getting opportunities.

Howard handled himself well through this. When Barkley asked Howard if he was going to opt out, Howard said: “I don’t know yet.” A couple of minutes later Barkley said what everyone around the league knows, that he’s opting out.

It was gripping television that drew great comments on Twitter, including from Rockets beat writer Jonathan Feigen.