The never-ending Josh Howard 'hangover' story
Although Josh Howard has denied reports that excessive partying contributed to him missing a game against the Wizards on Jan. 20 -- thus prompting his trade to the team less than a month later -- the story lives on.
Howard was scratched from the game -- a 93-92 Wizards loss in which the guy he was traded for (Caron Butler) had his game-winning attempt blocked by Shawn Marion -- with what the team claimed at the time was a "stomach illness."
A person who witnessed Howard at Verizon Center before the game told me that Howard was connected to an IV. The same person brought Howard a blanket because he was shivering. Howard told the person that his illness was caused by eating some "bad chicken."
On Monday, Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban was on Dan Patrick's radio Show when Patrick brought up the rumors about Howard's reported hangover. Cuban said that Howard looked ill but thought he could've done more to play in the game.
"He sat out a game, but I talked to him before the game and he didn't look hung over to me. He certainly wasn't feeling well," Cuban said. "I thought I had a good relationship with Josh, so I didn't think he was hung over. But he certainly wasn't feeling well. I was like, 'How you feeling? What's going on? And we just chatted about it. [Howard said] that he didn't feel well. He wasn't the first player that sat out because he wasn't feeling well."
While he didn't dispute that Howard was sick -- "He would've had to have been a great actor," Cuban said -- Cuban added that he was disappointed that he missed the game. "Was I upset a little bit that he didn't get in a little earlier and get IVs or whatever to try to get through? Well yeah, because a lot of guys come to work not feeling well," he said. "I wasn't mad at him. I just wish he would've taken more precautions."
Asked a general question about partying and the nightlife, Cuban told Patrick, "You can't be out partying the night before a game. Period. End of story. Now if we got a day off and you're getting trashed and you can deal with it [and] It takes you less than a day to recover -- which hopefully you can because you're a 20-something -- then fine. Go have fun. You're in LA, you're in Miami, whatever we have a night off before the next game, tear it up, I don't care. But on the flip side, you've got to be ready to play. That's your responsibility to me. You've got to be ready to practice, that's your responsibility to me, your teammates and the fans."
Patrick then asked Cuban about how often players wake up with hangovers on game days. "Let's put it this way: it happens, typically, once for a player and he finds himself playing for another team," Cuban said. "It wasn't the case behind Josh Howard. We had it happen with two other players the season before and one of those guys was put out to pasture and another guy was traded."
Howard has said that he won't respond to a lie, but in Toronto, he was asked if he was hurt that a story like this would come out a month later -- and after he was traded elsewhere.
"It makes me wonder. It makes me wonder, what was all of the hard work for? But it was for myself at the end of the day," Howard said. "It's kind of sad, hearing all of the lies coming out of there. Especially when I'm gone. Why would you want to talk about a guy who did so much for your organization and he's gone?"
Asked if he felt the situation would've been handled differently if he was having a better season in Dallas, Howard said, "They didn't really give me ... I don't want to talk about that. I only said it because they tried to fire off. ... I think that's where the other rumors came from because I basically told the truth."
He added, "I loved what I did in Dallas, but it's time to move on."
February 22, 2010; 2:46 PM ET
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