By Brian Schmitz, The Orlando Sentinel –
ORLANDO, Fla. — At Friday’s practice, the loss became a reality. The Magic officially began to prepare to play basketball without Dwight Howard for the rest of the season and postseason.
The club said Howard was doing well after undergoing successful arthroscopic surgery to repair a herniated disk in his lower back on Friday in the Los Angeles area.
Howard is expected to make a complete recovery in about four months and return to all-star form, said Magic team doctor Craig Mintzer.
Howard obviously has been ruled out for the regular season and playoffs. Mintzer said Howard was also disappointed he wouldn’t be able to play in the London Olympics for Team USA this summer.
Asked about the success rate for Howard’s sort of surgery, Mintzer said, “Is it going to be perfect? It should be.
“It really should be. He shouldn’t have restrictions whatsoever. He should come back fully. There shouldn’t be an issue there. Really, it’s just a matter of time.”
Mintzer said he and Dr. Robert Watkins of Marina Del Ray, Calif., who performed the surgery, were in agreement Wednesday night about Howard’s need for surgery, given the center was not progressing after usual treatments, including rest, epidural shots, ant-inflammatory pills and rehabilitation procedures.
Mintzer said that Howard “was hopeful to the last minute” his back would come around, but Mintzer added, “Dwight just wasn’t feeling better. He wasn’t turning the corner.”
Howard was disappointed, but Mintzer said Howard was not surprised that surgery was the final outcome. “He was as unhappy as you’d expect, but he knew what could happen,” Mintzer said.
The Magic didn’t immediately announce that Howard needed an operation. ESPN broke the news. But Mintzer said he the original diagnosis was a herniated disk with surgery as a possibility.
“..The whole time we knew Dwight had a serious problem. We all knew it was serious, Dwight knew it was serious, but he doesn’t need everyone to know everything about him all the time,” Mintzer said.
He added that Howard would likely remain in the L.A. area for at least three days, maybe longer before subjecting his back to air travel.
Teammates weren’t totally surprised with the news, considering Howard had missed the last six games and eight overall.
“It’s just a tough thing. I hope he’s made the right decision and he gets healthy,” said Glen Davis, who has replaced Howard as the starting center. “We need him not only this year, but next year, too.
“We know how important Dwight is, but we have to move on as a team. We have to come together. The most important thing is to believe.”
Chris Duhon and Quentin Richardson have both undergone surgery to repair a herniated disk.
“The main thing is, I hope Dwight gets better,” Duhon said. “I’ve had that surgery before. You have to keep an eye on it the rest of your career.”
Richardson said he spoke with Howard and said he was “down about having to have the surgery and not being able to be around the team. It’s a tough situation and it’s been a tough season with a lot of ups and downs and this is another big blow.”‘
The Magic have no choice but to rally around each other. They have borrowed a line from the movie “New Jack City, saying, “We All We Got”, as they break huddles.
“We all we got,’ that’s the way it is now,” Davis said. “That saying kind of spreads the spirit out. I feel a different spirit running through the team now. The energy level is there with guys and that’s what we need.”