Dwight Howard: "I'm ready to make an impact right away"
Dwight Howard: Workout went really well. I don’t know if they mean more. I think they know what I can do. They just want me to get accustomed to the workout style. They know I can shoot, and block shots, and rebound. I made sure I could shoot. I didn’t want to come into the league not being able to shoot. I shoot 1,000 shots every night.
How was the meeting last night with management, and what kind of questions were asked?
DH: We just basically talked. The first question was what I planned to do with my career. I just told them I wanted to be the best ever. We just talked about goals and life and stuff.
What was your reaction to finding out that T-Mac wants out of Orlando?
DH: I didn’t read anything, but I saw the headline. You know I was really surprised about it, but Tracy has to do what’s best for him and I wish him nothing but the best.
When you first thought about being the No. 1 pick, I was told you were excited at the opportunity to play with Tracy McGrady. Now that it seems he won’t be here, is there any disappointment on your part?
DH: It doesn’t change anything. I’m still excited about playing with the Magic. I wish T-Mac was going to be here, but he has to do what’s best for him. I am still excited at the chance to play here.
With all that’s going on with the Magic, how confident are you that you can come here and make things better?
DH: I feel like I can make things a lot better with the coaching staff's help.
Why should the Magic choose you over Emeka Okafor?
DH: I felt like I showed them a lot of things. I did what they required me to do, but it's in their hands. It's their decision. I did a lot of things in my high school career. I scored a lot of points. I blocked over 700, 800 shots. I can rebound. I am a good passer, getting my teammates involved. It’s up to them though.
DH: I’m ready to make an impact right away. You know the high school I went to wasn’t very good when I got there, but I did everything personally to make myself better and then I helped my teammates get better because they were playing at a higher level than they were used to.
Have you talked to any of the guys that have made a transition from high school to the NBA?
DH: No, I haven’t talked to LeBron or Amare or anyone like that. But I’ve talked to guys in the league and they just tell me to work hard and I can do it. I’ve watched film on guys like Duncan and Garnett. I look at the things they do and then I work that into my game.
What will you do between now and the NBA draft?
DH: I’ll be on an airplane (laughs). I will be flying from here to L.A. to South Carolina and then back home, then to New York for the draft.
How would you handle the pressure of being the No. 1 pick – especially in light of someone like Kwame Brown, who hasn't fared so well?
DH: I think I am going to be a very good player and will do whatever it takes to do that. I just think Kwame got caught up a little bit with the cars, and money, and buying tickets for everyone, and the girls (laughs). Not that there is anything wrong with girls (laughs). But I am willing to sacrifice and do whatever it takes to make myself into a great player. The girls can wait. I’d rather sacrifice now.
At what point in high school did you know you were going to turn pro?
DH: Well, personally, I wanted to go in 9th grade (laughs). But I knew that wasn’t going to happen so I’d say right before my 12th grade year. I knew I was ready to do it.
Is there any disadvantage in that you didn't go the college route like Okafor did?
DH: Nah, I don’t think there is an advantage for him. I’ve been playing this game since I was three years old. I think the only advantage he had was being on an accelerated weight lifting program for four years – and it shows (laughs). He is a big guy.
I know you spend all your time on basketball, but what do you do with the little free time you have?
DH: Watch TV, watch movies, talk on the phone. Play PlayStation. You know, I guess all the things an 18-year-old does (laughs).
Mike Tuck is a producer/on-air talent for 740 The Team in Orlando and a regular contributor to HoopsHype.com
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