Dwight Howard has admitted that he is expecting 'a lot of boos' when returns to Staples Center to face the Los Angeles Lakers for the first time on Wednesday night.
28-year-old Howard was traded to the Lakers from the Orlando Magic as part of a blockbuster trade in August 2012, but he spent just a solitary season in Tinseltown before defecting to the Houston Rockets during the summer.
Howard's time as a Laker was fraught with difficulty, with the eight-time All-Star struggling to find a sustainable role in Mike D'Antoni's offense and also suffering badly with injury problems.
However, despite that, there was still an element of surprise and distaste when he turned his back on a five-year, $118 million max deal in LA to join Kevin McHale's crew and Howard is expecting a rough reception from the home fans upon his comeback.
"I'm going to get a lot of boos," Howard was quoted by the Los Angeles Times.
"I know I'm going to hear it the whole game -- 'Coward,' whatever. There's not anything I can do about it. Just go out there and play.
"Thank God, this year I've been through it a lot in every city. There's Lakers fans everywhere. So I think I'm a little bit prepared for it."
The Rockets head to LA as the NBA's in-form team having chalked up seven consecutive wins prior to the All-Star break. At 36-17, Houston are finely poised in third spot in the Western Conference heading into the final stretch of the 2014 season.
The Lakers, meanwhile, have endured a truly turgid season under D'Antoni, with ageing superstar Kobe Bryant having missed all but six games thanks to his recovery from a torn achilles and later a fractured knee.
Tied with state rivals the Sacramento Kings for the worst record in the West, the Lakers are a woeful 18-35 and have lost a record eight-consecutive home games.