Dwight Howard's Thursday was going amazing. Following the Philadelphia 76ers' morning shootaround in Los Angeles, the veteran big man hopped on a Zoom call to virtually meet with local reporters to discuss the upcoming game against his former team, the Los Angeles Lakers.
Howard, with a big smile on his face, had nothing but positive things to say. "I'm happy to be in LA, but I'm happy to be with the Sixers," he said. "I'm happy to be playing today. I'm happy to be alive, and I'm looking forward to tonight. . . Yeah, I'm pretty much happy," Howard concluded.
Perhaps, the idea of picking up his first-ever NBA Championship ring on Thursday night had Howard giddy. However, the happiness didn't last very long. Coming off the bench for the Sixers in the first quarter of Thursday's game, Howard played chippy as he typically does.
But against the Lakers, he met his match with fellow big man Montrezl Harrell. Some leaning, shoving, and chirping ensued during Howard's first six-plus minutes on the court. It didn't take very long before Howard picked up a technical foul.
And by the time the first quarter wrapped up, Howard's night was over. Walking off the court and back to his own bench, Howard intentionally walked into Harrell as both players were still heated. Although Harrell gave the Sixers center a shove, Howard was the one who received a technical foul, which got him tossed.
"I was just playing basketball, man," Harrell said after the game when asked about the altercation. "I'm not backing down from nobody, man. I don't take that lightly. I don't take none of that disrespect. You're not gonna push me all around the court and just feel like you're gonna big-boy me and just attack me or whatever. It's not in my blood, it will never be in my blood. I don't care what nobody feels about it, I don't care who don't like me. It is what it is."
This season, Howard has built up a reputation of being the veteran on the Sixers who likes to get under the opponent's skin. Most times, players get in their own heads and struggle or start picking up technical fouls for themselves. At the Staples Center, though, Howard's plan backfired.
On a night where the Sixers didn't have Joel Embiid, Tony Bradley, or Vincent Poirier available to them, the timing for Howard's ejection couldn't be worse. As expected, Sixers head coach Doc Rivers was disappointed in Howard.
While many may believe the officials took it too far by ejecting Howard, a veteran such as himself should've known he was taking it too far -- especially against a player that had no problem retaliating.