Houston Rockets center Dwight Howard was a guest Tuesday night on “Inside the NBA”, and it made for riveting television.

(The only key party missing from the set was Dwight’s longtime nemesis Shaquille O’Neal.)

Howard was forthcoming on his tarnished reputation around the hoops world, and addressed whether or not he has a future in H-Town alongside superstar teammate James Harden.

Per the Houston Chronicle:

Howard said he has not decided whether to opt out of his Rockets contract and has not thought about where he will play next season. […] Howard can opt into a fourth year with the Rockets that would be worth $23.3 million. He had refused to discuss his options throughout the season or after the Rockets were eliminated in the first round April 27 and said Tuesday he has not yet weighed his options. But (Charles) Barkley took the opportunity of Howard’s visit to offer advice about ignoring critics and to ask why Howard has become such a polarizing figure.

 

“I would say people see me and see the success I had in Orlando and see my now and are like, ‘What’s the difference,'” Howard said, citing his awkward departure from Orlando when Stan Van Gundy said Howard tried to get him fired months before Howard was traded to the Lakers. […] “I think I was very likeable in Orlando. The way that situation ended, I thought people thought I was a bad guy. I’m all about myself. I’m a diva. I’m stuck on me, Dwight Howard, this famous basketball player. People say, ‘We don’t like this guy.’ I hear that a lot. It really hurts me because my heart and my attitude has always been the same. My drive has always been there. “

 

Barkley and Kenny Smith, who interviewed for the Rockets’ vacant coaching position Tuesday, advised Howard to ignore his reputation, with Smith saying Howard should rebound when he does not get touches. […] Barkley told Howard that he was in the “back nine” of his career and urged him to make a free agency decision to chase a championship. He also questioned whether Howard can succeed while playing with Harden, but Howard later repeated the comments he made late in the season about pride and ego.