Dwight Howard On James Harden: ‘I Would Never Hate This Man’, Wants Him ‘To Succeed’

Houston Rockets star Dwight Howard apparently still has high hopes for his team – hopes that a vast number of NBA fans and critics no longer have for the same group.

During a recent interview with USA Today Sports, the former Los Angeles Lakers center claimed without hesitation that the Houston Rockets still have a chance to turn it all around and become champions this year.

“Regardless of how our season is going so far, regardless of the fact that we haven’t played up to our expectations, I really believe that we have a championship caliber team.”

Keep in mind that the Houston Rockets reached the Western Conference Finals as the 2014-15 NBA season came to a close with the Golden State Warriors becoming champions. During the current season, many fans and critics expected them to repeat their overall success during the regular season – fighting their way back to the Western Conference Finals for the second consecutive year.

Chances are that not very many people expected last March that the Houston Rockets would have a 35-35 record the following year, falling to 7th place in the Western Conference. That is the grim reality of the Rockets’ current season – leaving doubts and uncertainties in the minds and hearts of numerous fans of the Rockets and the Harden-Howard duo.

Dwight Howard made it clear that the opinions of the fans, critics and everyone else not included on the team roster really do not matter when it comes to their potential success and possible future as an NBA championship team.

“Nobody else has to believe it, and that’s fine. The whole world can be against us. But if those 15 guys in the locker room believe that we can win, then we will win. There’s no doubt about it. We had a great season last year, and the reason why we were able to come in the playoffs and do what we did is because we believed.”

Since the rocky start of the current season, the Rockets’ overall performance has left numerous fans and critics absolutely disappointed. Observing the complicated partnership of James Harden and Dwight Howard on the court makes it easy to see why so many people think that the two star players do not like each other.

(Photo Credit: Scott Halleran/Getty Images)

Dwight Howard opened up about the rumors and speculation circulating about him and Harden during the same interview with USA Today Sports, claiming that there is no bad blood between them.

“People feel… like we hate each other. I have no hate in my blood for this man, you know? For what? He came from nothing. We both came from nothing. And we’re doing something that we love. We grew up playing this game for fun, and we had big dreams of making it to the NBA. So I would never hate this man because I know what it took for me to get here, and he made it. So I want him to succeed. I want us to succeed.”

Howard further reflected on the “endless hours of YouTube videos on James Harden before he had the beard” that he watched and enjoyed before joining the Houston Rockets. In his own words, he remembered saying to himself that Harden’s “got so much talent.” Howard also explained that he knows where James Harden is at when it comes to “everybody looking at you” with high expectations while being “one of the best players in the league” – a story that Howard claims he has lived through before himself.

When it comes to how to make it work between himself and James Harden on the court, Dwight apparently has a vague plan for that as well which requires them both to figure out how they are “going to make this thing work.”

“It’s on us. We’ve got the rest of the season, and the playoffs, and we can do it. It’s a mindset. It’s a mentality. And the whole team will fall in line when me and him are on that same page and the team sees that we’re strong together. If we just come together like we’re supposed to – and it takes time, you know. It takes time. If we can just come together like we’re supposed to and like we want to, then I’m telling you, we can win a championship.”

It may seem as if Dwight Howard is writing a check that his team simply cannot cash with the rest of their season. However, it is not too late for the Rockets to secure a spot in the 2015-16 NBA Playoffs bracket. If they are able to do that, then (as most NBA fans know), anything goes and anything can happen.

Only time will tell if Dwight Howard and James Harden are able to lead the Houston Rockets back to the Western Conference Finals this year.

[Image Credit: Scott Halleran/Getty Images]