Dwight Howard has admitted to being 'surprised and disappointed' at being labelled a cheater in light of the controversial stickum incident over the weekend.
The Houston Rockets big man was speaking on Monday after having received an official warning from the NBA, who were responding to an incident during Saturday night's game between the Rockets and Atlanta Hawks in which Howard was found to have used a sticky substance on his hands.
Besides the formal warning for Howard and Houston, the NBA are not planning to hand out any further punishment. Nevertheless, the player himself feels the whole incident has been taken out of proportion:
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"I just think that it's getting overblown, like I'm doing something crazy," said Howard, via ESPN.
"But again, I've never been a cheater, never been the type of player that has to do something illegal to win. It's upsetting, but I can't control it now."
The incident itself came during the first quarter of Houston's clash with Atlanta when, preparing to shoot a free throw, the Hawks' Paul Millsap complained about the ball.
A can of spray was discovered on the Rockets' bench by officials, but, in the immediate aftermath, Howard didn't see an issue - freely admitting he had used the spray for five years.
His Rockets head coach J. B. Bickerstaff has come to the defense of his player in the midst of the criticism too, saying:
"Every time Dwight goes into the game, it's the same routine," he said. "It was no cover-up on my part."
"He's never run to the back in the locker room to try to trick anyone. It was never brought to our attention. No one's ever said anything to us about it.
"If you go back, you can watch every single one of our games for the past three years. It's [the can] there, so we were obviously surprised by the attention it has drawn."
The use of stickum and similar sticky substances to aid ball handling is illegal in the NBA, however, it appears that Howard and Houston were unaware of this.
With the league having made the situation clear over the past few days, informing all other NBA franchises in the process, the player and team will be looking to move on as soon as possible and focus on the task at hand - securing playoff basketball.
Next up is a tough road game against the Oklahoma City Thunder tonight. Howard will be on the court for the Western Conference clash, although the status of James Harden is unclear as he deals with an ankle injury.