Mavericks forward Josh Howard took the podium during media day and immediately delivered a genuine apology for a string of recent, image-tarnishing transgressions that started at the end of last season and extended through the summer.
"I'd like to state that I truly and really am sorry for everything that's happened in the past five months with me," Howard said to open his 10-minute press conference. "This is not the way I carry myself. This is not how I want to be portrayed, and I really and truly am sorry to everybody that I offended. I'm upset with myself and the way I've acted the past months. I truly and really am sorry."
Howard continually said he wasn't "being Josh Howard," during those times when he got himself into hot water. He blamed his own poor judgment and said he lost focus on and off the court in the final months of the season. He said the criticism he's endured the last few months has hurt and he said he sincerely hopes he can win back fans. "I will," he said. He said he was upset with himself for not putting an end to his self-destructive behavior before it could snowball into a realm of negativity.
"Off the bat I realized it was wrong and I really didn't do nothing to correct anything, I just let a lot of stuff go. It just wasn't me," Howard said. "I'm really, really upset about it and I'm trying to move forward."
Howard's strange twists and turns included admitting he smokes marijuana, followed by a late-night birthday party during the playoffs, an arrest for speeding in North Carolina and then the distasteful remarks about the national anthem caught on a cell phone video camera during a charity flag football game in July. The video was released on YouTube in August and it triggered a firestorm of anger and resentment toward Howard.
Howard said in no way did his remarks about not celebrating the national anthem because he is black reflect his true feelings about the anthem or his country.
"I just wasn't using my head. I guess the lesson I learned from this is words really do hurt and you're held accountable for what you say...I went to military school, I have friends that served in the military, I know how it is to wake up and salute the flag. And the national anthem every game, I have my hand over my heart every time. It's nothing new to me. It was just me not thinking, up there acting crazy."
Howard answered questions for 10 minutes, mostly about his summer of trouble and then about the upcoming season.
"The best way to put it is I have the biggest block on my shoulder that I plan on knocking off," he said. "Just letting everybody know that this is the same Josh Howard that came into this league and helped the Dallas Mavericks achieve a lot. That's where I want to get back to."
-- Jeff Caplan