On the court, Dwight Howard is no longer relevant.
He’s put up empty stats for a half-decade and has played for four teams in four years. After being traded and bought out by Memphis on July 6, he’s a free agent without a home.
Off the court, a strange incident in November, when a transgender man named Masin Elije, via a Twitter thread, accused Howard of sexual harassment, manipulation, and threatening behavior in an attempt to pay him hush money, has lingered.
The tweets also outed Howard as allegedly gay. We wrote about this in November, mostly making the point that few media outlets were touching or even acknowledging it. Elije filed a lawsuit in March; Howard countersued.
But he’s barely acknowledged the whole thing publicly, until today, when Howard discussed the allegations against him and his sexual orientation, on Kristine Leahy’s Fox Sports 1 show, Fair Game.
It’s a two-part interview. The first part aired today, the second tomorrow. (It's must-see TV, but brace yourselves before turning to FS1. You might be blasted in the face with a Skip Bayless, Jason Whitlock, Cris Carter, Chris Broussard, Rob Parker, Clay Travis or Colin Cowherd take.)
Here’s an extended clip, in which Howard:
Denies being gay.
Says he has never met, seen, or interacted with Elije: “It upset me because I didn’t know who the person was. I’m like, ‘Why would somebody who I’ve never met, never had any contact with, make up a whole story about me?’ I saw all the hate -- the pure hate -- from people that I’ve never met before, against me, and I think that liberated me.”
Says the situation enlightened him on the problem of homophobia: “I’m not gay, but there’s a lot of people who are. And they have to hide. And there’s people who have mental issues, and they have to hide. There’s people who have different problems in life and they have to hide. They have to put on their mask everyday. It’s like, I don’t want to where no mask. I just want to be me.”
Says the whole thing hurt to go through, and took him a couple of months to get over: “I sat and home and was like, ‘I never want to come outside again.’ … “[It took] a couple months to really just think, and understand myself.”
[READ: How Dwight Howard lost his way and is trying to get back]
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