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Dwight Howard says he contemplated retirement after 2014-15 season

Dwight Howard’s NBA career post-Orlando Magic has left a lot to be desired. Feuds with teammates, injuries and declining performance have all played a role in Howard’s perceptible fall from grace.

Reports and allegations from his stints with the Los Angeles Lakers and Houston Rockets perpetuated the belief Howard was at this stage of his career, the three-time Defensive Player of the Year simply wasn’t worth the headache.

Things didn’t go much better after signing a three-year, $70 million contract with his hometown Atlanta Hawks before the 2016-17 NBA season. While Howard averaged a respectable 13.5 points and 12.7 rebounds per game, the Hawks cut bait after only one season, trading him and the 31st overall pick in the 2017 NBA Draft to the Charlotte Hornets for Marco Belinelli, Miles Plumlee and the 41st overall pick in the 2017 NBA Draft.

Now, with Howard on yet another attempt at a redemption tour and career reset, the center has opened up to Lee Jenkins of Sports Illustrated, admitting all the negativity prompted a contemplation of retirement following the 2014-15 season, his second year with the Rockets.

The jolly giant who supposedly had too much fun on the floor was miserable. “The joy,” Howard says, “was sucked out of it.” But what would retirement accomplish? He had to change his life regardless of his occupation. So he did what his teenage self would have done. He saw a pastor.

Calvin Simmons has ministered to hundreds of professional athletes in the past decade, including Adrian Peterson, so he is familiar with dramatic falls from grace. “Dwight had gone from the darling of the NBA to the black sheep,” Simmons says. “He realized he had done some things wrong and needed to change, but at the beginning he just wanted to share.”

Howard suggested shortly after the trade to the Hornets that this latest opportunity allows him the ability “to just shut people’s mouths.” It remains to be seen how it all plays out, but this could be Howard’s last chance to do so.

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