While he was still a member of the Orlando Magic, Dwight Howard told us about the intense pain he experienced during the last few moments of the 2009 NBA Finals as he watched his championship dream slip away. Ironically, it was the sight of the victorious Los Angeles Lakers dancing and celebrating on his home court that left the most painful and indelible mark on Dwight’s psyche.
Days after that crushing defeat, Dwight was back in the gym preparing for the next season and another chance to pursue his intensifying dream. But the pain had not let up. “Fifteen minutes into the workout, I was crying because it was hard, and I felt like I couldn’t finish,” Dwight recalls. “I just kept seeing the Lakers jumping up and down on my home court. As bad as I wanted to quit, that’s what kept me going.”
Now that he has joined forces with the L.A. dance crew he once used as motivation, Dwight has positioned himself considerably closer to realizing that NBA championship dream. While he adjusts to his new zip code, teammates and way of life, one thing remains constant—his relentless pursuit of physical superiority in the gym. Dwight has no plans to alter the intense, explosive training he's used to develop the massively ripped shoulders, arms and abs that make other NBA players look like back-ups on a high school squad.
Although he will now be surrounded by an All-Star supporting cast, Dwight knows the road head will be rough. Yet he is fully prepared to continue battling—with the help of his performance coach Bryan Meyer. The gut-check workouts prescribed by Meyer are among the reasons we fully expect immediate success for Dwight with the Lakers. “I’m not one to throw up, but I was almost at that point,” says the perennial NBA Defensive Player of the Year. “The first time we started working out, I felt like I was going to die.”
He may be best known for clowning on and off the court, a characteristic some hoops experts feel he needs to outgrow, but Dwight will continue to build his career on hard work, responsive muscle and explosive movement. According to the 6’11”, 270-pound beast, he hasn’t topped out yet. “I think I’m on my way to being one of the best that ever played,” Dwight says. “As far as the weight room and basketball court go, I think I’m getting to the point where I’m rising to my peak.”
For that reason, the game’s best big man will ultimately bring another title to Los Angeles.