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Dwight Howard drew the ire of fans and sports writers last year with his wish-washy approach to his contract situation in Orlando.Howard demanded to bolt to a contender, but still sought admiration from Orlando fans. After countless remarks about his intentions to leave, Howard spoiled his image for good. Even waiving his early termination option to remain in Orlando for an extra year did little to restore his reputation.
In an article from T.J. Simers of The Los Angeles Times, Howard admits that constant pressure to please people has leaked into his game in Los Angeles:
Howard says he won’t shoot the jump shots in games that he routinely makes in practice.
“I hate missing,” he says. “I hate missing so much, I miss. You know why? I’m always thinking I’m going to miss this and then disappoint everyone.”
Howard is having one of his worst statistical seasons thus far, averaging 18.5 points and 11.9 rebounds per games. The rebounding total is his worst since his rookie season.
But Howard said that he’s still not entirely in game shape since undergoing back surgery in the offseason, which may factor into his dip in production.
The larger cause for concern here is Howard’s mindset moving forward and how he handles the pressure to preform in light of the Lakers’ difficult start to the season. In Los Angeles, the expectation for excellence has the potential to be overwhelming and Howard admittedly fears failing to meet those expectations.
Playing under added pressure in L.A. is another adjustment Howard needs to come to terms with.
Maybe Howard can learn a thing or two from Kobe Bryant about turning unrelenting criticism into fuel to perform at a higher level.
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