Dwight Howard opted out of the last year of his deal with the Houston Rockets and decided t head east to his home town of Atlanta, GA. Howard signed a three-year, $70.5 million deal with the Atlanta Hawks.
On Wednesday, Howard was overcome with emotion and even let a tear or two drop at his first press conference with his new team.
“This is a real new beginning for me, and I’m happy to share that with my loved ones,” he said, before pausing to regain his composure. “Oh man. There’s gonna be some memes,” he said as he tried to cover his face.
Howard said the faith Atlanta has shown in him restored his “belief that I’m still the player” who was selected to eight All-Star Games and won three successive NBA Defensive Player of the Year awards.
Howard said his time with the Rockets left him with a “chip on his shoulder.” Injuries along with a diminished offensive role with the team, had many people thinking he was disinterested in competing and wasn’t as good as the player that took the Orlando Magic to the NBA Finals. He credits the Hawks’ interest during free agency with helping him start feeling “really good about myself again.”
Howard says he’s ready to go out and compete this year, noting that how plays with the Hawks will allow him to hush the critics, “My body feels great, and I’m really looking forward to having a dominant season this year. New mentality, new attitude.”