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Dwight Howard Keeps Focus Despite Whirlwind Summer

Aug 4, 2009 – 9:25 PM
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Tim Povtak

Tim Povtak %BloggerTitle%

Dwight HowardMagic center Dwight Howard proved last season that you don't have to grimace -- you can smile -- on your way to the NBA Finals.

He wants to prove this summer that you don't have to lock yourself in the gymnasium to improve your game.

The world will be his workout room. Only time will tell.

While vowing to return a better player next season, Howard was beaming Tuesday when he described his whirlwind summer that has included -- or will include -- filming two different movies in Los Angeles, a television show in New York, a basketball camp in Vicksburg, Miss., shoe promotional trips to China and across Asia, and an NBA charity stint through Africa. And that's only part of his schedule.

He's still trying to convince television executives this summer to buy a Dwight Howard reality show that will include an upcoming cross country road trip where he stops a dozen times between East and West coasts to mingle with fans.

We also forgot to mention the goofy home video he and his friends made Monday night at the local Steak N Shake, around the corner from his Orlando-area home.

"This has been one of the best summers of my entire life, just being able to travel, meet a lot of different people, interact with all kinds of kids. I'm having so much fun,'' Howard said Tuesday during a break in his youth basketball camp at the University of Central Florida. "Basketball is still first, but while my legs are young, and I've still got my teeth and a pretty smile, this is a good idea.''

Howard, going into his sixth season, didn't sound too worried Tuesday about the Cleveland Cavaliers adding Shaquille O'Neal, or the Los Angeles Lakers re-signing Lamar Odom and adding Ron Artest to their championship mix.

Dwight HowardHe didn't sound worried about anything. He actually sounded pretty confident about winning his first NBA title this season, about beating the Lakers in a rematch of the Finals.

"Yes, Cleveland made some moves, but so did we. We got better, a lot better, yet people aren't talking about the Magic,'' he said. "We're a year older and a year stronger. We got pieces that nobody expected. We know now how to win.''

The Magic lost Hedo Turkoglu to free agency, but they added All-Star Vince Carter by trade, along with signing free agent forwards Brandon Bass and Matt Barnes, who are expected to add to the toughness of a team that was not considered physical beyond Howard.

The Magic will be on national television (ABC, TNT, ESPN) 24 times, the same number as the Celtics and Lakers. Only the Cavs, with Shaq and LeBron have more (25), according to the schedules released Tuesday. If you count NBA-TV as national, the Magic and Celtics top everyone with 32 appearances.

Although his summer has sounded busier than a marathon regular season, Howard scoffed at any suggestion that he is neglecting basketball. He said at least one of his two trainers is on every road trip, and that workouts remain a priority.

"Every summer, I've added something to my game, and this summer will be the same. The things I've done well, I'll make them better. The things I haven't done so well, I'm working on,'' he said. "Both my trainers have said they've never seen me work as hard as I have since we lost in the Finals.''
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