Dwight Howard appeared on Inside the NBA on Tuesday night (May 10) to fill in for Shaq… during which host Charles Barkley asked him, bluntly, why people hate him so much.
Howard went on to pinpoint the beginning of the hatred in 2012, due to the way his departure from the Orlando Magic played out.
“I think I was very likable in Orlando, and the way the situation ended, I think people felt as though, I’m just this bad guy,” he explained. “I’m all about myself, I’m a diva, I’m stuck on being this famous basketball player — so people say, ‘I don’t like this guy.'”
Howard goes on to recall the time when Barkley told him he wouldn’t be good enough to play pro basketball.
“I never will forget the day I came in here and you told me I wasn’t going to make it in the NBA,” Howard told Barkley. “And I’ll never forget the day that Magic Johnson said I wasn’t going to make it in the NBA, when I was in the 10th grade… You know, so that part, to hear people say that—it pisses me off, because that’s not who I am. I’ve never been a bad person.”
As far as Barkley critiquing his time in Houston, calling him “disinterested,” Howard addresses that as well.
“Disinterested? I’m always interested in winning. But you know, as a big, sometimes you want to feel a part of what’s going on,” he said.
“I’m always interested in the game,” Howard continued. “I’ve had the problem with smiling too much — people say I smile too much — so when I’m not smiling and doing all that stuff, it looks like I’m not interested in the game. So it’s like a thin line, where I’m like ‘Man, do I not smile? Or do I smile and have fun?’ And so that’s always been a struggle for me personally.'”