Dwight Howard is enjoying his visit to India
By Josh Robbins, Orlando Sentinel
7:13 PM EDT, August 12, 2010
Dwight Howard has been in India for less than four full days, but he already has a list of memories he won't forget anytime soon.
The Orlando Magic center has fulfilled a lifelong dream by seeing tigers. He has visited a butterfly park. He has met appreciative children who want to learn about basketball.
Thursday afternoon, after a flight from Bangalore to Delhi, he saw a mother on a sidewalk with her baby and her 4-year-old sitting nearby. Howard said the mother was either cleaning or resurfacing the pavement as the older child watched over the baby.
"It's different from what I'm accustomed to," Howard told the Orlando Sentinel during a phone interview Thursday.
"It's very different. The people here are just happy and grateful for everything. That's something good that I like to see out of people: being happy. Sometimes we take life for granted, especially in America. We complain about some of the smallest things, and then you go overseas and it's a whole different world."
Howard traveled to India to help promote the NBA and the game of basketball. League officials regard India's population of nearly 1.2 billion people as a vast untapped market, and they hope Howard's star power and megawatt smile will help generate interest in the sport.
Two summers ago, the NBA held its first event in India, a Basketball Without Borders instructional camp. Last December, the league launched NBA.com/India, a website with some content in Hindi. In April, the NBA started its first community basketball league in the country.
Howard arrived early Tuesday morning in Bangalore, where he spent some time with India's national basketball team, spoke to a group of 200 people and also saw tigers during what he called "a little safari."
"The highlight for me coming here to India, besides working with the kids — that's the best part — was being able to go see tigers," Howard said. "That's always been a big dream of mine, just to see tigers. I've had a great chance to do that. I'm very happy about that."
There's been one other plus about his trip: He said no one has asked him about the new-look Miami Heat.
Howard will spend a few more days in India, then travel to China for the second time this summer.
Bryan Meyer, a trainer based in Altamonte Springs, accompanied Howard on the trip.
Howard said he worked out for 2 1/2 hours Thursday. He did conditioning work with Meyer and practiced on a basketball court, performing the drills he worked on earlier this summer with former Houston Rockets all-star Hakeem Olajuwon.
Children approached Howard after he exited the gym.
"That's the great thing about playing basketball: having the opportunity to travel around the world and see things," Howard said. "It's just a blessing. A lot of people don't get the opportunity to leave America. I have an opportunity to travel not just to places like China, but India, a place that I always dreamed about going to. I'm actually here."