FAIRBURN, Ga. (AP) Dwight Howard’s frustration with the NBA lockout has caused the Orlando Magic star to strongly consider playing overseas.
In an exclusive interview Sunday with The Associated Press, Howard said he would consider playing in China or Europe if the NBA lockout doesn’t end.
Howard, a five-time All-Star who led Orlando to the NBA finals in 2009, stopped short of saying he’s in contract discussions with teams overseas.
“I’m not at liberty to talk about it,” he said, “but there’s a huge possibility about me going to China or me going overseas to play basketball.”
New Jersey guard Deron Williams said recently after signing with a team in Turkey that Howard could become a worldwide star if he played in China.
Howard, who hosted a celebrity basketball game Sunday at Langston Hughes High School to raise money for his charity, didn’t disagree.
“The big thing for me is not giving too much information away, but at the same time I still need to let people know what’s going on with me,” Howard said. “I don’t want to just sit over here and forget about basketball and waste, you know, opportunities for me to get better.”
Howard wasn’t interested in discussing his potential free agency at the end of next season. Along with Williams and New Orleans guard Chris Paul, Howard is a marquee name for potential free agency in 2012.
He saw no point in discussing the 2012-13 season when there’s no guarantee of an NBA season in 2011-12.
That’s why an opportunity overseas could make sense soon.
“If I decide to go overseas, the main thing is for me to continue to get better, not to do the things that I normally do, but do better at the things I’m not good at,” Howard said. “So I can use that talent to go overseas, working on my skills and staying in great shape.”
Howard recently hosted 400 kids at a youth basketball camp in Spain and was planning to host “a bunch of them in China, but the lockout messed everything up.”
The former overall No. 1 NBA draft pick loves working with kids in his native Atlanta, but he’s also longing to spread his appeal in other parts of the world.
“Being a role model lasts longer than being a basketball player,” he said. “Right now I have an opportunity to do a lot of great things. I’m blessed with a lot of talents, but one of my talents is being great with kids. Being a good role model, you just want to lead them in the right direction.”
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