Dwight Howard will undergo season-ending back surgery Friday. (Gary W. Green / MCT )
Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard will have a season-ending back surgery Friday in Los Angeles to repair a herniated disk in his lower back that has sidelined him for two weeks.
The surgery will likely keep him out for four months, preventing him from participating in the playoffs and playing with the U.S. National team at the London Olympics.
"It hurts [emotionally]," Howard told ESPN the Magazine's Chris Broussard. "That's the first thing -- it hurts. And then with people saying and thinking I'm quitting on my team. This is a real issue. I tried to play through it and it just made my back worse."
Howard, a six-time All Star, has been experiencing back pain all season but just found out about the herniated disk last week after he was examined by Los Angeles-based spine surgeon Dr. Robert Watkins.
Howard is not concerned about a long recovery.
"The doctor said it's a one-inch incision," Howard said. "He said I can start rehab right away and be back to full contact in four months. So I'm not really concerned. If anything, I'll come back stronger."
Jerry Colangelo, the chairman of the U.S men’s Olympic basketball team, is in Los Angeles. The Times is scheduled to talk to him today about Howard's possible replacement on the Olympic team; the list of candidates could include Lakers center Andrew Bynum.
Bynum is having a standout year, averaging 18.9 points and 12.1 rebounds a game. However, because of health concerns, Bynum said earlier this season that playing through the summer may not be a wise idea.
"It's something you keep your door open to, but I wouldn't guarantee seeing me doing it," Bynum told The Times in January.
Three other players out of 20 finalists will probably miss the Olympics as well. Clippers guard Chauncey Billups is out because of an Achilles' injury, Portland’s LaMarcus Aldridge is likely out because of season-ending hip surgery and Dallas’ Lamar Odom has been eliminated from consideration because he’s on the inactive list.
Check back at latimes.com/sports throughout the day for more updates.
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