Los Angeles Lakers center Dwight Howard admitted to thinking about an early retirement from the NBA last season after doctors told him that a herniated disk in his back had caused severe nerve damage in his leg.
Howard said he is not 100 percent and that on some days he's "not so good" because he's still rehabbing after nerve damage caused him to lose strength in his entire left leg. He told Scott Howard-Cooper of NBA.com that he probably wouldn't have been able to compete anymore had he played through the pain toward the end of last season and if he pushed his surgery until late spring or early summer. Instead, he had surgery April 20, which kept him out for the remainder of the season for the Orlando Magic and the London Olympics for Team USA.
When asked whether he had thought about retirement, Howard said it was definitely something that was on his mind:
“I did for a couple days."
He added that he knew he would potentially miss a few playoff games for the Magic, but said his long-term health is more important:
“If I would have waited until after the season (to have the operation), if I would have tried to continue to play, then I probably wouldn’t be able to play anymore. I had to do it right away. I didn’t want to risk my career for some playoff games. They were important for me, but my health is important.”
Now playing again, Howard has not missed any games so far with his new-look Lakers. After one of the worst starts in franchise history, Howard and the Lakers seem to have regained their stride. The team is riding a five-game winning streak, including a victory on Christmas at home against the New York Knicks, who handed the Lakers their last loss, on Dec. 13. Howard was traded to the Lakers in August as part of a four-team deal that sent center Andrew Bynum from Los Angeles to Philadelphia. Bynum has yet to play a game with the Sixers because of his own health problems with his knees.