NBA: Take 2: Film moves Howard to fix his foul problems
By ANTONIO GONZALEZ
Associated Press Writer
ORLANDO, Fla. — Dwight Howard was looking for some guidance to overcome his chronic foul trouble in the playoffs, and he found it in a movie.
The Orlando Magic's All-Star center, an avid film buff, was encouraged by a friend this week to take note of the message in the "Peaceful Warrior."
Howard came away from the film inspired, calling it "one of the best experiences I've ever had." He related to the movie's main character, and plans to heed the movie's advice to help him get past the frustration of his struggles.
The 2006 movie is about a gymnast who injures a leg and has to fight through adversity to eventually triumph. The gymnast meets a wise man, played by Nick Nolte, who helps him along the way.
"There was one thing that stood out when he was saying that we're always looking for somebody to tell us what we need to do," Howard said of Nolte's character. "We're always looking around for answers from everybody else instead of searching within for the answer. I've had a problem with that, just looking around for everybody to tell me what I need to do with situations.
"Like, 'You need to do this, you need to do that.' So everybody's telling me, 'Do this, do that.' And when I'm playing on the court all I hear is, 'You've got to do this. You've got to do that, you've got to do that.' I have to get to a point where I can block all that out and just do what comes from within. I think it was good for me to see that."
Howard has been living a real-life drama.
He was sidelined in constant foul trouble during the Magic's first-round series against Charlotte. He continually complained about the officiating and was fined $35,000 for comments critical of officials on his blog.
Orlando still managed to sweep even with the NBA's two-time defensive player of the year in a funk. But the defending Eastern Conference champions know they'll need Howard to snap out of it if they want to return to the finals.
The Magic await the winner of Sunday's Game 7 between Atlanta and Milwaukee.
"We can get through the Charlotte Bobcats without him on the floor. We cannot get through whoever the next opponent's going to be without him being on the floor," Magic general manager Otis Smith said. "That's the bottom line."
Advice has filtered in from all angles this week.
Friends, family, teammates and coaches have been calling and texting Howard to offer guidance. His persistent foul trouble also has fueled fodder on talk radio and national television, with critics pointing the finger at Howard to pull himself together — even if calls don't go his way.
Nothing touched Howard more than the film.
It wasn't the first time Howard watched the movie, just the first time he watched it with a purpose. Howard said there was a parallel with the movie's message and his own predicament.
"It was one of the best experiences I've ever had, and something I needed to go through," Howard said. "This guy was just like me, from a lot of different standpoints. It was a real good movie and I learned a lot, and it was something that I needed to see."
The Magic only hope it's enough for Howard to shake his woes.
The Bobcats frustrated Howard into retaliating with excessive shoves and elbows. Most of his fouls came on the offensive end, relegating him to the bench.
Somehow, someway, the Magic didn't lose while Howard constantly lost his cool.
The Magic's happy-go-lucky center has been anything but his jovial and joking self after practices this week. He said he hasn't changed, and he's only trying to channel his focus.
Maybe even become a "Peaceful Warrior."