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Dwight Howard prepares for Orlando ‘homecoming’

Calgary Flames left winger Alex Tanguay (40) goes against Los Angeles Kings defenseman KeatEllerby (5) center ColFraser (24) third period

Calgary Flames left winger Alex Tanguay (40) goes against Los Angeles Kings defenseman Keaton Ellerby (5) and center Colin Fraser (24) in the third period of an NHL hockey game in Los Angeles Monday, March 11, 2013. The Kings won, 3-1. (AP Photo/Reed Saxon)

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ORLANDO, Fla. — Dwight Howard is only thinking about the happy times he spent with the Magic as has he prepares to return to Orlando for the first time since his drama-filled offseason departure.

The Los Angeles Lakers center upset Magic fans and some of his former teammates last week when he appeared to criticize them during a television interview. He said after the Lakers morning shoot around that he’s ready to move beyond that and the circumstances surrounding his trade this past summer.

“All that stuff is over with now. Today is a new day,” he said. “Whatever happened in the past, I’m gonna leave it behind me. Like I said, I have nothing but love for the fans here. They treated me well. It didn’t end right, it didn’t end the way we all wanted it to end. But I’m in a better place, and everybody has to move on.”

The Magic host Los Angeles Tuesday night in a game that the Lakers need to stay in position to make the Western Conference playoffs.

Howard said he’s reached out to former Magic teammate Jameer Nelson to clarify his comments from the television interview, but that they have yet to speak.

Asked about the current state of their friendship, Nelson indicated Tuesday that it is a work in progress.

“You make friends in the course of your life, that’s on the court and off the court, and some of them stick in your life and some of them don’t,” Nelson said. “We still have a lot of life to live and hopefully we can be friends after basketball.”

Nelson said that he told Dwight from the beginning of his stay or go drama last season to make a decision for himself and his family and that “whatever decision it was to stick with it and move forward, and I always wished him the best.”

Howard said he doesn’t know what kind of reception he’ll get Tuesday from the Amway Center crowd.

But he said his message to them, though, is clear.

“I came here a boy and I left a man and it made me a better person,” Howard said. “Thanks to the people that supported me, even throughout the bad times.”



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