Magic center Dwight Howard will undergo surgery in Los Angeles Friday to repair the herniated disk in his back, ruling him out of action for the rest of the season and preventing him from playing at the London Olympics.
Howard was ruled out indefinitely last week after the herniated disk was discovered by Los Angeles surgeon Robert Watkins, but the pain has worsened since.
Magic General Manager Otis Smith told the Orlando Sentinel team officials believed it was in their star’s best interests to have the operation as soon as possible.
"After consulting with the two doctors, it’s in his best interests to have surgery sooner rather than later," Smith said. "Basically, the situation is not getting better. I’m not saying it got worse. It’s just not getting better."
Smith said it was disappointing to lose the team’s leading player so close to the playoffs.
"We just have to continue to endure, continue to fight and continue to do the things we’ve been doing from Day One with the understanding that when your best player’s not on the floor, everybody else has to step up," he said.
Agent Dan Fegan told ESPN he hoped news of the surgery would stop talk that Howard was only using the injury as an excuse not to play.
WKMG-TV reported Thursday that Howard has called Magic owner Rich DeVos, telling him he does not want to set foot on the court again this season for Orlando if Stan Van Gundy remains the team’s head coach.
According to the report, multiple NBA and Magic sources told the station Howard called DeVos Friday night while his teammates were battling the Atlanta Hawks, telling the owner he was done playing for the 52-year-old coach.
One of Howard’s representatives, however, denied the report, telling ESPN Thursday, "It’s a completely made up, B.S. story."
Howard’s surgery will also keep the All-Star out of the American lineup for the London Olympics, Fegan said.
The three-time defensive player of the year averaged 20.6 points and a league-leading 14.5 rebounds per game in 54 games this season.