Steve Clifford shuts down rumors of Dwight Howard being a locker room cancer
It didn’t take long for rumors to sprout regarding Dwight Howard’s personality creating chaos in locker rooms after he was traded from the Charlotte Hornets to the Brooklyn Nets, who immediately sought to initiate a buyout with the veteran big man.
Howard was already rumored to have clashed with Kobe Bryant in Los Angeles, tore down a locker room in Houston, then proceeded to do the same in his hometown of Atlanta.
Steve Clifford, his head coach during his lone year with the Hornets, noted that wasn’t the impression he got during the end of his tenure with the team.
“Listen, let’s put it this way: I was in Orlando and then in L.A.” Clifford said, according to Candace Buckner of The Washington Post. “And if I thought that he would be a problem in the locker room, when Michael [Jordan] and I talked about it, we would have never brought him to Charlotte.”
Howard will now find himself a member of the Washington Wizards as soon as he clears waivers this afternoon, but Clifford isn’t expecting this to be another one-year venture, but rather the next step in showing he’s transformed himself.
“The first thing that stands out to me is he’s coming off his best year in the last five or six years,” Clifford said. “If you’ve known him for as long as I have, what he’s doing, what he did or what he’s done these last couple years with his body, from his knee to his back to his overall conditioning level and fitness, it’s really remarkable.”
“I don’t think any of us would have ever envisioned him being able to play at this level, at this age, just because he had a really significant knee issue then he had a pretty major back surgery,” Clifford said. “As much as anything, for me it shows his commitment, his love for the NBA and how badly he wants to be able to keep playing.”
Howard reached 81 games played for a season for the first time since playing all 82 in 2009-10, having played all 82 games in five of his first six NBA seasons.
The 6-foot-11 big man was the league’s ironman and he’s responded with having one of his best statistical seasons since his first with the Rockets, putting up 16.6 points, 12.5 rebounds, and 1.6 blocks per game in 2017-18.