While he has played the majority of the games possible for the Los Angeles Lakers this season, Dwight Howard's back has been a frequent topic of conversation for just about everybody, including Howard and former Lakers coach Phil Jackson.
Jackson has been in communication with Howard this season, even giving him a bit of advice along the way, according to Howard (via Dave McMenamin, ESPN L.A.):
I've had people really just help me out. Guys like Phil [Jackson], he texts me and he understands how it is to come off back surgery. He just said it takes a full year to recover, so you can't beat yourself up over the things that have happened this year.
He was able to return the following season and play clear through until 1980 to some extent, so he does have a bit of knowledge on coming back from serious back surgery as well.
News of this Jackson-Howard relationship has to come as a bit of a surprise to NBA fans, as the Lakers unceremoniously spurned Jackson in the beginning of the season in their search for Mike Brown's replacement as head coach.
Jackson was thought to be the front-runner, but at the last second, the team (and Jim Buss) decided to go with Mike D'Antoni instead, leaving Jackson with a sour taste in his mouth.
The condition of Howard's back after surgery last spring has been at the forefront of every Los Angeles Lakers fan's mind for the duration of the season, as his surgically repaired back and torn labrum in his right shoulder has been hampering him all season.
Howard has talked in the past month about how his back has kept him out of tip-top condition and potentially cost the Lakers a few wins along the way.
Whether it be advice on how to play in the post, how to stay patient with a back injury or just how to bake the best apple pie, Howard talking to Jackson can only be a good thing.