During the toxic, final season in Orlando, Dwight Howard says he turned inward and shut himself off from the world. Now that he’s a Laker, Howard feels he can turn back into his goofy, fun-loving self. Per SI: “Now I’m here, and now I can just relax and have fun and be who I am,’ Howard said. ‘I guess last year I really just sheltered, or kept myself away, because it was like, I say this, and then it’s going to be turned into something else, or somebody is going to take it the wrong way and make it seem like I’m a certain type of person. So I really just tried to stay to myself. But now I’m basically free. It’s a lot of fun. This is who I am.’ Howard was responsible for much of the ‘Dwight-mare,’ not only the trade requests issued to Orlando but also the way in which he let his once-spotless image be tarnished by all the secrecy and silliness. In the face of nonstop scrutiny about his future, Howard put on a what-not-to-do media relations clinic that not only turned him into the NBA’s next villain but also left him more guarded and defensive than ever before. ‘Everybody had a perception based on what was put out there on TV, and it wasn’t the right one,’ Howard said. ‘There’s nothing I could really do about it. So when I see that, I do get upset and it hurts me because I’m like, ‘This is not me.’ I’ve never been a distraction to a team. I’ve never been a bad teammate, never been a guy who does all these things that people said I was doing. But I’m going to show these [Lakers] guys that this is who I am. I love to have fun. I love to bring people together, and I’m going to go out there every night and give you 110 percent.’”