Dwight Howard returned to Staples Center Thursday for the first time since winning a title with the Los Angeles Lakers. He did a good job of showing the team the kind of shenanigans he lost when he refused to sign him in free agency last season.
First, the Philadelphia 76ers center received his championship ring with his teammate Danny Green. at a pregame ceremony. Both were key rotation players on the 2019-20 Lakers team, with Green starting each playoff game and Howard leading the team in minutes at center.
Howard proceeded to play his old team, and soon began playing with Lakers big man Montrezl Harrell.
First, Howard and Harrell had an awkward chest-to-chest interaction that ended with Harrell shoving Howard. Both players received technical fouls for the confrontation. Howard got one more technique (and one more push) a minute later when he entered Harrell (you are the judge if it was intentional) at the end of the first quarter.
He triggered an automatic expulsion:
Ben Simmons received an additional technical foul, resulting in two free throws by the Lakers in the opening of the second quarter. Howard finished the game with six points, two rebounds and two blocks in six minutes.
Sixers coach Doc Rivers was not amused by the incident during a halftime interview:
This kind of thing that happens on a player’s ring night really feels like the kind of thing that can only happen to Dwight Howard. On the other hand, JaVale McGee and JR Smith were also members of the Lakers championship team.
It’s also worth noting that there is a backstory between Howard and Harrell at play here.
Dwight Howard and Montrezl Harrell have an awkward history
Last offseason, Howard entered the NBA free agent market and seemed very interested in a Lakers meeting. Then things got awkward when Howard proudly tweeted that he was returning to the team, then quietly deleted the tweet.
About an hour later, Howard was reported to be heading to Philadelphia.
It later emerged that Howard believed he had a $ 3 million one-year offer from the Lakers, but in reality the team never made a formal offer and was simply floating a “deal concept.” The team told Howard’s agent that it needed the owners to approve the offer, but after an hour of no communication, Howard decided to heed the Sixers’ call.
After that awkward divorce, the Lakers signed Harrell, the reigning NBA’s sixth man of the year, and Marc Gasol to replace their great Howard-McGee tandem. So you can imagine why Howard may have had some residual weirdness directed directly at Harrell on Thursday.
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