Dwight Howard is still a prankster. Twelve years into his NBA career, the Atlanta Hawks center loves nothing more than a good goof. Case in point: Immediately after agreeing to a three-year, $70.5 million deal with his hometown Hawks on July 1, he told his mother he was going to Utah.

"I played a prank on my mom," Howard said on the Doug Gottlieb Show on CBS Sports Radio on Monday. "I wanted to see her reaction, so I told her, I said, 'Mom, I just got this big contract, $150 million.' And she was like, 'Oh my God, from who?' I said, 'Utah Jazz,' and she started crying. And I said, 'Mom, sorry, I was just joking, I'm coming home to Atlanta.' And then she was super happy and my family was super excited."

Dwight Howard in Atlanta
Dwight Howard is smiling again. USATSI

Crying seems a little too much, right? Utah is far from home, sure, but it's a good team! Plus, he said that he would be making $150 million. Seems like a pretty good opportunity.

In any case, Howard's mother is certainly happy about the real outcome. She cried at his introductory news conference in Atlanta, but those were tears of joy.

Howard is happy to be be where he is, too, telling Gottlieb that he has fallen in love with basketball again and wants to help the Hawks challenge the Cleveland Cavaliers in the Eastern Conference. Early returns are encouraging: Atlanta is 7-2, with a win in Cleveland, and its Howard-anchored defense has never looked better.