LOS ANGELES — Dwight Howard flashed a broad grin across his face before the Philadelphia 76ers confronted the Los Angeles Lakers on Thursday night, getting his 2020 championship ring with fellow former Laker Danny Green.
It did not take long for Howard’s saying to change from cheer to chagrin.
Howard, making his return to Staples Center, was ejected between the first and second quarters, as referee Kane Fitzgerald called a technical foul on Howard for blatantly walking right into Lakers big man Montrezl Harrell on his way into Philadelphia’s seat after the buzzer sounded.
The Sixers won 109-101.
“I just thought it was a really selfish drama,” Philadelphia coach Doc Rivers said of Howard. “You got one technician, you can’t get another one. We only need to have better subject. I do it. I understand there is a good deal of emotion. But we had one center on our team, and he got thrown out. I wasn’t very happy with that one. I know it’s an emotional game. But he’s a veteran. We got to have better discipline”
What prompted the group bad blood is uncertain, however Harrell, last season’s Sixth Man of the Year while playing for its LA Clippers, might not have joined the Lakers in the offseason had Howard not signed with the Sixers.
In the beginning of free agency in November,” Howard tweeted,”I’m staying right where I belong. Laker nation I adorey’all. Purple and gold never gets older.”
In a bizarre turn of events, however, he immediately deleted the tweet ended up inking a one-year, $2.6 million contract with Philadelphia. After that day, the Lakers consented to a two-year, $19 million deal with Harrell.
Harrell, when asked what led to the altercation with Howard, stated,”I don’t know, frankly. I don’t even care to be true with you. I was playing basketball, guy.”
He added,”I’m not backing down from no one, man. I don’t take that lightly. I really don’t take none of that disrespect. You are not gonna push me all around the courtroom and just feel as though you’re gonna big-boy me and only attack me or anything. It’s not in my blood, it’ll not be in my blood. I really don’t care what no one feels about it, I don’t care that do not like me. It is what it is.”