NBA veteran Dwight Howard to play for Taiwan team

TAIPEI (AFP) -- Eight-time NBA All-Star Dwight Howard has sealed a deal to play for a team in Taiwan and the 36-year-old center will make his debut next week.

Eight-time NBA All-Star Dwight Howard (AFP)

"I am so excited. I can't wait to touch down in Taiwan and start playing," Howard said in a video on the Facebook page of his new team the Taoyuan Leopards.

"I can't wait to see the fans, eat the food and have the best time ever, and bring the championship for Taoyuan city."

Howard was an eight-time All-Star in his 18 seasons in the NBA and won a championship with the Los Angeles Lakers in the pandemic-hit 2019-2020 season.

He became a free agent after playing for the Lakers in the 2021-2022 season.

Last season he averaged 6.2 points and 5.9 rebounds a game for the Lakers.

The Taoyuan Leopards in northern Taiwan will hold a press conference on Saturday to formally introduce Howard before his debut the following weekend, the team said on Facebook.

"We hope he can pass on his experience, concept and skills to younger players in the team and help our team win this year's championship," the team said.

Basketball and baseball are the two most popular sports in Taiwan and have professional leagues drawing large crowds.

The Leopards are among six teams in the T1 league established last year, the youngest of the island's three professional leagues.

The team did not provide details of its deal with Howard.

"I am ready to enjoy life by playing the sport I love in front of a bunch of people that love me," Howard said in a video on Instagram.