Los Angeles Lakers center Dwight Howard knows all the attention around him surrounding his exit from the Orlando Magic following the "Dwightmare" of the off season. He says this time around he plans to stay focused on the game and wants to avoid the negative spotlight with his free agency decision looming in L.A.
"I'm not a crybaby," Howard told ESPN's Stephen A. Smith on SportsCenter on Monday. "I didn't try to cry my way out of Orlando. 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. I'm not indecisive. I love this game. You know I play it because it inspires me; it inspires millions of kids around me, adults and all. And, I'm going to have fun while I do it.
"Right now, my only focus is to get us into the playoffs and win the championship. Nothing else matters at this point."
Howard is sticking to his goal of winning his first championship of his nine-year career, no matter how unlikely it may seem with the Lakers getting off to a 22-26 start.
"I understand, you know, what the Lakers want," Howard said. "And I also understand that right now, there's no need for all the circus, and all the stuff that happened last year to start back up. I don't want it, my team doesn't need it, I don't need it, and frankly, our fans don't need it neither."
Howard, who's nursing a right shoulder injury, is considered a game-time decision for the Lakers matchup against the Brooklyn Nets on Tuesday. He has missed four games this season because of his shoulder but has not missed any time from complications an offseason back surgery.
"Well with my back you know, it's not all the way there, 75 percent," Howard said. "And with my shoulder, it's day to day. This is the first year recovering off of a back surgery. I really don't think people understand the severity of the surgery and the injury, and how long it takes to recover. Even sitting down in this chair right now is causing my legs to go numb, and just having this tingling sensation all the way down my legs. So, that happens when I'm playing. That happens when I'm just sitting on the bench for a couple minutes. It's not easy."
Howard, who is averaging just 16.5 points per game -- his lowest scoring output since his second season in the league -- said he is slowly coming to terms with playing alongside Kobe Bryant.
"You play with Kobe Bryant you know, he's going to get them up," Howard said. "But, at the same time, I have to find ways to still be effective. I can't allow that to affect how I play. 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."
The Lakers are currently 5-1 in their last six games.