- (Photo: Reuters/Jim Urquart)
Dwight Howard may still be adjusting as a new center for the Los Angeles Lakers, but the 27-year-old is opening up about his frustrations concerning his free throw shooting and teammate Kobe Bryant.
In an interview with ESPN's Stephen A. Smith, Howard admitted that his coming to Los Angeles after spending his entire career following a 2004 draft with the Orlando Magic has become somewhat of a media circus. After rumors swirled about his reason for leaving Orlando where he was a franchise player, Howard explained that his intention was never to leave the team on a bad note.
"I'm not a crybaby. I didn't try to cry my way out of Orlando," Howard told Smith on SportsCenter on Monday. "That was never my intention, or not what I did at all. And I understand everybody thought it was that way because of what was being put out there."
While Howard came into the season recovering from a back injury, he has missed four games this season due to a shoulder injury. Still, the center admitted that he has dealt with other frustrations while adjusting to the team.
One of those frustrations happens to be adjusting to sharing a role with the team leader and guard, Bryant.
"You play with Kobe Bryant you know, he's going to get them up. But, at the same time, I have to find ways to still be effective. I can't allow that to affect how I play," Howard told Smith. "There were a lot of times early in the season where I would get upset you know, because I felt like he shot the ball a lot. And you know, I wanted some touches down low. Do I want touches, yeah. But, whatever I have to do to help this team win, I have to keep my mind in that area."
Despite the frustrations with not getting a lot of shots, Howard admitted that he needs to improve his free throw shooting.
"It's mental. When I step up to the line in games, and I think so much about missing because everybody saying I can't shoot free throws," Howard said. "And it's just going up there and shooting it. When I do have those games when I go up there and shoot it, they're good. So my thing it's all mental. In high school I was 90 percent from the line."
While the center said his priority is helping the Lakers make it to the playoffs and possibly the finals, he still maintains that he plays basketball to be an inspiration and have fun.
"You know I play it because it inspires me; it inspires millions of kids around me, adults and all," Howard said on ESPN. "And, I'm going to have fun while I do it."