Howard needs to undergo back surgery for a herniated disk, it was announced early today, and will miss the remainder of the NBA season.
“It hurts (emotionally),” Howard told ESPN’s Chris Broussard. “That’s the first thing — it hurts. And then with people saying and thinking I’m quitting on my team. This is a real issue. I tried to play through it and it just made my back worse.”
Howard, who hasn’t played since April 7, has been complaining of back problems since early March. When Los Angeles-based spine surgeon Dr. Robert Watkins examined him last week, the herniated disk was discovered.
Howard received an epidural to alleviate the pain at that time, and the plan was that he’d rest and rehabilitate his back for 10-14 days before deciding if he could return to play, or if further treatment might be necessary.
Now that the decision has been made to undergo surgery, Howard also will miss the 2012 Olympics.
USA Basketball director Jerry Colangelo said the U.S. federation will examine the possibility of adding additional players to the training camp roster. Already, three of the original 20 players — Howard, Chauncey Billups and LaMarcus Aldridge — have been ruled out because of injuries.