Although Dwight Howard may be having another stellar season -- headed for his fifth consecutive All-NBA first team honor -- Magic general manager Otis Smith made it clear that he still wants more from him.
Smith wants more leadership from his star player, calling him out publically during a local radio show interview Thursday.
"Whether he wants the role [as leader], or they want to give him the role, he has the role," Smith said. "There are no ifs, ands or buts about it, and unfortunately, it falls on your best player, and you're going to get from him whatever you're going to get."
Smith has talked to Howard several times about assuming more of a leadership role, but Howard hasn't always responded. Although Howard usually leads by example -- he has been the NBA's Defensive Player of the Year the last three seasons -- Smith wants him more vocal and holding teammates more accountable.
Howard, though, is not confrontational by nature, and he wants teammates to like him, which is not always in the team's best interest.
"So whether he wants the role, or not, he has to assume the role. Now, everybody who has the role, it doesn't necessarily mean they know how to deal with the role. But it's his," Smith said. "And he has to learn how to do that."
Smith's comments came a day after watching his team get blown out in New York. Midway in the fourth quarter of that game, with the outcome already decided and Howard out of the game for good, he sat at the end of the bench with teammate Jameer Nelson during a timeout huddle. Everyone else was around coach Stan Van Gundy, listening to instructions.
It was one of Howard's worst games of the season. He managed just 12 points and six rebounds in 28 minutes.
On Friday, before the 100-98 loss to Dallas, both Howard and Nelson admitted they should have been part of that huddle in New York, but they didn't exactly apologize for not being there.
"We didn't lose that game because me and Jameer weren't in the huddle," Howard said. "We were down by 30. I'm pretty sure the reason we lost the game wasn't because we weren't in the huddle. So there's no need to make a big deal about it. We could've been in the huddle. We should've been in the huddle, but it's over with. Just let it go."
They Magic play again Sunday night at home against Denver.
"We'll see these guys next week [April 5], so we're going to have a chance to get it back."
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