Dwight Howard on leaving Lakers: 'I had to do what was best for Dwight'

The Magic traded Howard after Howard continued to insist on a trade and Howard's camp intimated that Howard might not show up for training camp if he was still on the Magic.

Despite public statements to the contrary, Howard wasn't happy with the Lakers, either. He didn't mesh with Kobe Bryant, wished the Lakers had hired Phil Jackson instead of Mike D'Antoni and was hampered by his back and a shoulder injury.

"There were some things that I missed about Orlando," Howard said. "There's a lot of situations that nobody really knows that I kept on the inside, but there's some things about Orlando that I missed. I'd say that getting out in the community and doing a lot of stuff that I did, I miss doing that stuff in Orlando and the relationships that I built with a lot of people over there in Orlando. I miss that.

"But I have no regrets. I'm happy everything happened the way it happened. Even though I got hurt in the process and I had to go through a tough time, it made me a better person. I'm more mature now. I know how to handle situations different than I did back then."

Howard views the Rockets as a championship contender.

He thinks Houston has similar talent to the 2008-09 Magic squad he led to the NBA Finals.

On Tuesday, Howard compared Rockets small forward Chandler Parsons to Hedo Turkoglu and Rockets shooting guard James Harden to Courtney Lee but also added that Harden has more scoring ability. He compared Rockets point guard Patrick Beverley to Rafer Alston and Rockets point guard Jeremy Lin to Anthony Johnson.

Howard said he was disappointed that, last February, after the Magic acquired Tobias Harris in a trade, the team granted Harris' request to wear No. 12, Howard's old number.

"I just think that despite whatever happened, there was a lot of things that I did and that we did as a team, and that number was special down there," Howard said. "And I was a little bit upset about that."

(Howard likely didn't know, and perhaps still doesn't know, that Harris wanted to wear No. 12 as a tribute to a close friend who had died of leukemia at 17 years old.)

Still, Howard indicated he's focused more on the present than the past.

On Tuesday afternoon, a Houston TV reporter asked Howard whether he's a true Texan now.

Howard responded he has a cowboy hat at his new home and some chaps to wear over jeans. He added he plans to order some cowboy boots in his size.

The reporter asked if Howard will wear that outfit one day.

"I'll say this," Howard responded. "If we're in The Finals, I'll wear my outfit to the game. And I'll wear it after we win."

jbrobbins@tribune.com. Read his blog at OrlandoSentinel.com/magicblog and follow him on Twitter at @JoshuaBRobbins.