After spending three days working out with Hall of Fame center Hakeem Olajuwon, new Rockets center Dwight Howard said Olajuwon has huge expectations for him in a Houston uniform.
"Dream is excited," Howard said in an interview with FOX 26 Sports. "All he's been talking about is me surpassing him with championship rings and me getting better, and that's great when you have a guy like Hakeem who's one of the best guys to ever play this game, giving you tips and giving you encouragement and not pulling you down."
Olajuwon, who has been hired by the Rockets to help work with the team's big men, won a pair of NBA Championship rings with the Rockets in the 90's.
"Me and Hakeem have been working out for years," Howard said. "The biggest thing I try to take from him is just watching the feet. It's not all about the flair and the glare and the move. Just watching his feet and how he does it, certain moves."
Howard may be a seven-time NBA All-Star and three-time NBA Defensive Player of the Year, but he said he has plenty of room to improve and Olajuwon is helping make that happen.
"That's the plan," Howard said. "Last year, in people's eyes was a down year, but for me it was coming back off a bad back injury. I'm just looking forward to regaining all of my strength and my quickness and all of that stuff that I really didn't have last year and it's coming back. We've had some great days of work and I'm excited."
And Howard is thrilled to be playing for Rockets coach Kevin McHale, who had the opportunity to observe Olajuwon working with his team's newest star.
"He's a lot of fun," Howard said. "His biggest thing is he just wants me to go out and play and dominate and do what I've been doing for years.
"It's a lot of hard work. The biggest thing that he's been telling me this whole time, use your speed, your quickness and then your power. He's been really studying a lot of my games and I've been doing a lot of studying myself.
"Like Kevin has said, it starts with me. I have to do what I can on both ends of the floor to dominate and that's what I'm working on now, is getting my timing, my speed, my strength and all of that stuff back so I can dominate all year.
Last month in Los Angeles Howard worked out with several of his new teammates, including guard James Harden and forward Chandler Parsons.
"We had a great time," Howard said. "We worked hard. We trained hard in the weight room. Guys are very, very excited and pumped up about this season."
Howard said he already knows he and Harden will work well together.
"I think we're going to be great," Howard said. "We have an opportunity to grow and that's the biggest thing. We have an opportunity for four or five years to really make an impact in this league together as a duo.
"We're looking forward to doing the best we can to bring a championship here to Houston."
Even though it has only been about six weeks since Howard chose the Rockets, he already knows it was a great decision.
"It's a blessing in disguise," Howard said. "Everybody's been talking down on me about leaving L.A., about being afraid of the spotlight or whatever you want to call it, but I think this is the best place for me and my career right now. I'm very excited.
"I have a great opportunity to work with Kevin and Hakeem on a daily basis, and these guys are really committed to helping me take my game to another level. I've had great years in the past and I think this is going to be some of my best years coming up."
Howard has seen the huge banner on the George R. Brown Convention Center that has pictures of he and Harden, with "H"-TOWN in capital letters.
"Oh it's beautiful," Harden said. "It's a great welcoming sign for me. We're looking forward to having a great year.
"Can't wait, can't wait to get started."
Meanwhile, after completing the interview with FOX 26 Sports Howard left Bush Intercontinental Airport on a trip to China.
"It's a trip for Adidas," Howard said. "They have some shoes coming out, the Dwight Howard Four (D Howard 4). I think they're very cool. I'm just happy to go over there and see the fans from China and all over Asia.
"It's going to be a lot of fun, very excited, but my main concern is getting back to Houston and helping this team win."