“I’ll address that any day. I ain’t no bad person. I ain’t never been no bad person in the locker room. All this stuff is just lies to try to justify why I was traded, or why I left the team. But anybody who knows me, who’s been around me, on and off the court, I ain’t never been no a–hole, I ain’t never been no mean person. I would never try to destroy a team, but that’s a narrative that they always tried to say to me because they couldn’t say nothing else. At one point they were saying I was a great teammate, that I smiled too much on the court. But I smiled my happy a– all the way to the Finals.”
Howard, who spent the first eight years of his career in Orlando, led the Magic to the NBA Finals in 2009. He spent one tumultuous season with the Los Angeles Lakers in 2012-13, during which he clashed with Kobe Bryant, before signing with the Rockets. Howard then spent three up-and-down seasons in Houston before bouncing to the Hawks and the Hornets over the last two years. After Charlotte traded Howard to the Nets in a draft-day deal last month, there were reports of chemistry issues between Howard and his teammates. SiriusXM NBA Radio analyst and former Wizards center Brendan Haywood reported the Charlotte locker room “hated” Howard. However, his coach with the Hornets, Steve Clifford, said of Howard, “If I thought that he would be a problem in the locker room, when Michael [Jordan] and I talked about it, we would have never brought him to Charlotte.”
Meanwhile, John Wall, who had his issues with former Washington center Marcin Gortat, expressed optimism that Howard would help improve the Wizards.
“I think it’s great,” Wall told The Post’s Candace Buckner at a Summer League game in Las Vegas before Howard’s signing was official. “I think it’s an opportunity to see how it pans out, to have an athletic big and somebody who’s going to re-correct their career. I think it should be fun and exciting for us. Hopefully he comes in with a serious focus and mind-set [that] he wants to get better and help our team. We’re about to sit back and see what happens, but I think having him and Austin [Rivers] — giving us another scorer off the bench — those guys and Kelly [Oubre Jr.] getting better can definitely help us out.”
Speaking of Oubre, Howard, who has worn No. 12 for all but one year of his career, is apparently interested in his uniform number.
“Y’all gotta tell Kelly, man, I need that No. 12, or it’s going to be 21 or 8,” Howard said during his Instagram Live session. “I’m trying to get [Rivers’s] No. 1 man, but y’all ain’t help your boy out. Don’t give me no crazy numbers. It’s either 8, 21, or No. 1.”
Howard suggested that he’d ask Oubre about making some sort of deal for his No. 12. Otherwise, it sounds like he’ll settle for No. 21.
“Let’s go Wizards,” Howard said on Instagram, shimmying his shoulders. “D.C., Chocolate City, and chocolate shoulders will be in the building, baby,” Howard said. “Oooh, Chocolate City. Chocolate shoulders.”
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