Dwight Howard grimaces as he looks down at an All-Star T-shirt given to him by an NBA official. It’s green. Celtic colors.
“I really don’t like wearing green,” he said as he talked to reporters in the same luxury-hotel ballroom as Boston All-Stars Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, Ray Allen and Rajon Rondo. “It’s tough playing against those guys…or playing on the same team as these guys.”
It’s hard to blame the good-natured Howard. He’s feeling some heat as the Orlando Magic fade in the Eastern Conference race, falling 5 1/2 games behind Miami and Boston.
Orlando has been uneven since a three-game winning streak a month ago, going 7-6 leading up to the All-Star break, including three losses to teams ahead of them in the East (Boston, Miami and Chicago).
The Magic (36-21) might not even have home-court advantage in the first round of the playoffs. Atlanta is only a game behind for fourth place.
“It’s going to be very tough,” Howard said. “We understand that but I think we have enough to win a championship and compete with Boston and L.A. I just have to do as much as I can for our team to have a chance to win. Our team has to be consistent every night.”
In other words, there’s very little margin for error.
Howard was, however, not thinking too far ahead. He deflected a question when asked if the Lakers should take a long look at acquiring him before he becomes a free agent in 2013. (With the All-Star Game taking place Sunday in Los Angeles, it won’t be the last time he’s asked about the Lakers.)
“As of right now, I’m in Orlando and that’s the only thing on my mind, is getting our team back to the Finals,” he said. “Hopefully we’ll see the Lakers in the Finals, but that’s the only thing on my mind. I haven’t thought about what’s going to happen two years from now. I want to win a championship in Orlando and I want to do my best to try to get one there.”
Howard, 25, had plenty of lighter moments in an interview session with media members and seemed to delight the national, and international, throng of reporters.
He got a round of laughs when asked what he would do if an owners’ lockout prevented the season form staring on time.
“I’ll be a pizza delivery man,” he said. “I think I’d be good at that job. Just call me and I’ll bring the pizzas to your house. Or the pool guy. Most people like pool guys.”
He also claimed to be a big fan of teen heartthrob Justin Bieber and said the only food he cooked for himself was hot dogs and white rice.
If he ever ends up wearing a Lakers or Clippers jersey, he might have to ask for a political pardon. He ripped Los Angeles mayor Antonio Villaraigosa when asked to list the best and worst actors.
“I think the mayor of L.A. was pretty bad,” he said. “We did a scene together in “Valentine’s Day” and he just couldn’t remember any of the lines so I think they X’d his scene because he couldn’t remember the lines. Thanks, Villaraigosa.”