National Columnist

Do you believe Dwight Howard?

Dwight Howard says he might not be able to play again this season, even into the playoffs, because of his back. That's what he says, so I guess we're supposed to believe him.

But Dwight Howard also said a few years ago that he wouldn't follow the Shaquille O'Neal path out of town, that he wouldn't use his free agency to consider leaving the Magic. And then it turns out that wasn't true, because Howard later said he would in fact use his free agency to consider leaving the Magic. And then it turns out that wasn't true, because Howard said earlier this season he would not use his free agency to consider leaving the Magic.

At least not this year.

Anyway, we're supposed to take Howard at his word that his back injury truly is bad enough to keep him on the bench now, perhaps until next season.

But Howard gave his word last year that he would strongly consider the idea of playing overseas if the NBA locked out the players, and Howard never considered it, not even weakly. Not even as the lockout ate into the first two months of the NBA season.

And Howard also gave his word that he had never asked the Magic to fire coach Stan Van Gundy, when in fact, according to Van Gundy himself, yes he had.

That happened about a week before Howard's back started acting up.

We're supposed to believe him. I know we are. And there's an honest-to-God chance that his back does hurt, that his back is injured, that his back is the only thing keeping him from playing right now, and perhaps through the playoffs.

There's a chance Dwight Howard isn't lying about it, which is about the nicest thing he deserves to have said for him:

There's a chance Dwight Howard isn't lying about it.


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