After the disaster that was Orlando’s loss to the Sacramento Kings, Dwight Howard made some comments that were very telling about the situation with the Magic right now.
“We’ve been talking for a long time,” Howard said. “That’s all we seem to do.”
Howard wasn’t his usual jovial self. Usually, Howard is joking with his teammates, the media and the ball boys. Howard is also almost always the last player ready and keeps the media waiting longer than almost any other player as he tries to have as much fun with those in the locker room as possible.
On Wednesday night, that wasn’t the story. Instead, Howard got dressed quickly and addressed the media earlier than he ever has.
“If guys don’t want to play, they got to sit down,” Howard said. “We just can’t have guys or anybody out there not playing hard. We’re professional athletes. It’s what we do for a living. If you can’t go out there and go hard for two hours, then you shouldn’t be playing.”
Howard offered up a simple solution.
“Just play hard. It’s as simple as that,” Howard told the gathered media. “Play hard for 48 minutes no matter if you mess up or miss a million shots. If you play hard, all that stuff will equal out but if you’re out there just BSing around then you’re not going to get nothing done.”
“We can’t play like that if we want to be a championship team,” Howard added.
Howard was asked by one media member about what he has done about being a leader.”
I’ve said everything I need to say,” Howard responded. “I talked every timeout, then in the huddle, in the locker room. I’ve done everything I’m supposed to do as a leader.”
Howard isn’t shouldering much of the blame anymore and he shouldn’t be. He had another monster night, scoring 31 points and grabbing 17 rebounds, but got virtually no help from his teammates, especially on the defensive end.
Howard still stop shorted of specifically calling anyone out.
“Everybody has to step up and play hard,” Howard explained. “I’m not singling anybody out and I’m not calling anybody out.”
Although he stopped short of actually calling anybody out, the way Howard feels is clear – he thinks his teammates must play harder.
Howard does still believe the Magic have the ability to get where they want to be but things must change in a hurry.
“We have a lot of talent but talent will not get you a championship,” Howard told reporters.
“Hard work and commitment every night is what gets you a championship,” Howard added.
(Andrew Melnick is Howard the Dunk’s lead blogger and ESPN 1080′s Magic Insider (http://espn1080.com). Subscribe to his RSS feed, add him on Facebook and follow him on Twitter to follow him daily. You can download the HTD app here).