Dwight Howard on What it Feels Like to Win a Gold Medal and Then Start a New Basketball Season

Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard
Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard (By Sue Ogrocki -- Associated Press)
  Enlarge Photo    
Monday, November 24, 2008

Orlando Magic all-star center Dwight Howard was one of three players -- LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony were the others -- to spend each of the past three summers playing for USA Basketball. The long journey culminated last summer with an Olympic gold medal in Beijing. Howard says his Beijing gold feels much different than the bronze medal he won in the 2006 world championships in Japan and the gold he won in the 2007 FIBA Americas championship.

It was amazing to represent our country in China, to come back and everybody is just [screaming] 'Gold medalist!' Everywhere I go, people congratulate me and want to see the medal. For the most part, I show it to them. I take it everywhere I go. I usually have it with me. It's in my bag because I'm afraid to leave it alone. It means a lot. It's an honor to have a gold medal. Not a lot of people that have played basketball have played on a team that won a gold medal. Just that experience alone makes it a big blessing.

Coming back after spending a month or however long I was over there, I thought we was over there for a year. when we got back, I was like, 'I'm tired.' We all felt that. We all wanted to get back to the gym as soon we got back, but when we got back, we was like, 'I want to go to bed.' We did a lot of running, a lot of moving, and a lot of traveling. It wears on your body.

[Orlando Coach Stan Van Gundy] gives me a good amount of rest. If I'm on the floor and it looks like I'm winded, he takes me out right away. Gives me a couple of minutes and I'm right back. He just wants my intensity to be up when I'm on the floor. I do that for him, he'll give me my proper rest.

It does feel different this season, I don't know why. Three summers seems like another season even though it may not seem like a lot of games. The games are a lot faster, the pace is a different pace. It feels like this is my eighth year in the league, but it's really my [fifth].

-- Interview by Michael Lee

© 2008 The Washington Post Company