It’s been a long road to recovery for Dwight Howard.
The new Lakers center was just cleared for full contact drills on Monday, Oct. 9. He is still getting his feel back and his touch back, he says, but he’s making progress.
At one point while with the Orlando Magic last season, Howard recalls an instance where the pain was just too much for him to bear.
“There was a practice where I couldn’t even bend over,” he said. “I just felt it all the way down my leg and that’s when I knew something was wrong. I went home and the doctor said: ‘If you can’t do a calf raise, you need to have surgery.’ And I couldn’t do it.”
So he sought medical help.
He spent two days in the hospital after the late April operation, but trying to rehab and trying to regain strength became difficult.
“I didn’t want to hurt myself because I felt like I would re-injure myself,” Howard said. “I couldn’t bend over, I couldn’t lift anything over five pounds and I couldn’t do any kind of movements, so it was kind of tough.”
As Howard put it, post-surgery was “scary.” He was expected to miss the beginning of the regular season, maybe even the entire month of November.
“What a lot of people don’t know is that when I hurt my back, it affected my nerves to the point where my whole left leg was just dead,” Howard explained. “I basically couldn’t do a calf raise.”
Despite all this, the Howard is almost back to his old self again. In 5-on-5 drills in practice, the 3-time Defensive Player of the Year impressed his teammates with his play on both ends, highlighted by a big swat at the rim.
“He’s looking incredible,” said Kobe Bryant. “That defensive play was one of those plays that maybe Bill Russell can make and that’s about it. He was literally out of bounds and flew in and stopped a dunk and it was sensational.”
It’s L.A.’s collective hope that Howard will be erasing shots in games that count sooner than later.