By Mark Gallagher

The pandemic has had a profound effect on the sports world:

Empty stadiums and arenas.

New Sixers big Dwight Howard misses the energy that fans bring on an every-night basis. He also wants to leave a positive memory for everybody that was in the building that night.

“I do miss the fans, I will say that,” said Howard, who helped the LA Lakers win the 2020 title in the fan-less bubble in Florida.

“Playing in front of fans is probably the best experience because, for me, I always took it as some fans don’t get a chance, but one time to come to that game. So they might not get a chance to see me play in person. What would be their last impression of me? As somebody who goes out there and gives it all out every single night or somebody that’s worried about minutes or shots or touches.”

To create that energy, it takes everybody buying in. When a guy is not playing, he has to be getting loud and jumping up and getting excited for his teammates. That is something Howard is going to preach.

“The biggest thing for me in trying to talk to the younger players is if you’re not playing just be that energy, be that spirit that you would want somebody to give you if you were on the court making the plays and stops,” the veteran added. “What would you want somebody to do for you? Be the same way that you would want somebody to be if that was you making those plays. What that does is it lifts you up, it also keeps you engaged in the game, and now everybody’s on the same vibe and hopefully, by doing that, we win big.”

At the end of the day, it still is tough to play without fans. Howard knows and understands that having been in the league for 16 seasons, but he hopes to give them something to smile about while they’re watching from home until it’s safe to return to normal.

“We do miss the fans,” he sighed. “It’s very tough playing in arenas without fans knowing that nobody is going to be there to provide that energy. I’m very thankful that I have the opportunity to really provide energy for fans around the world even though they can’t be present at the games.”

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