Injured center Dwight Howard is still waiting to make his Lakers debut. (Stephen Dunn / Getty Images )
Dwight Howard, jittery Laker?
The six-time All-Star and three-time NBA defensive player of the year said he would probably be edgy for his first game as a Laker, which won’t come Friday in an exhibition against Sacramento at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas.
“Like I told Steve [Nash],” Howard said after practice Thursday, “I think I’ll be a little nervous out there for the first time but he said he would help me through it and hopefully it will be OK.”
Howard said he gets nervous at times before every game because he doesn’t want to lose, but this is different.
“New town, new city, I think everybody’s expecting a lot out of this team and they’re expecting a lot out of me,” he said, “so I have to make sure I keep all of that out of my mind when I’m playing and just have fun.”
Howard wasn’t exactly jovial at the start of his session with reporters, who peppered him with more questions about his expected return from surgery in April to repair a herniated disk in his back.
“There’s no point in you asking the same questions every day,” Howard said.
He slowly warmed as the questions continued, saying he mainly wanted to be in the best possible shape for a return that is expected to come before the Lakers' opener on Oct. 30.
“I don’t want to go out there fatigued and injure something else because most of the time that’s when you have injuries,” Howard said. “So I just want to make sure I’m in pretty good shape to go out there and play. I don’t want to take a step back. I’ve come too far from where I was at.”
Asked about his All-Star surrounding cast, Howard said he had never played with anyone like Kobe Bryant or Steve Nash … except in the realm of video games.
“Actually, I played with Pistol Pete on NBA Live back in the day,” Howard said, referring to Hall of Famer Pete Maravich. “That was the closest thing to Steve Nash.”
What about Bryant?
“I played with Elgin Baylor in NBA2K12 last year,” Howard said. “We were on the same team. It was pretty good. We won all the games.”
How about Pau Gasol?
“I don’t think there’s nobody like Pau,” Howard said. “But I think Pau was on Sesame Street … the yellow bird.”
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