Dwight Howard's leg felt 'dead' last season before undergoing back surgery.

Howard said he played longer than he should have due to negative attention surrounding his desire to be traded from the Orlando Magic.

"What a lot of people don't know is, when I hurt my back, it affected my nerves to the point where my whole left leg went dead," Howard said Thursday. "Basically, I couldn't do a calf raise.

"There was a practice where I couldn't even bend over. I just felt it all the way down my leg. That's when I knew something was wrong. The doctor said, 'If you can't do a calf raise, you need to have surgery.' And I couldn't do it."

Howard said he had felt discomfort and pain in his back for most of the year, but decided to keep it "in house."

"With all the stuff that was going on," he said, "I didn't want anybody thinking I was quitting on my team or thinking about doing that. But it just got worse. And instead of sitting out, I wanted to keep playing to show everybody I was still with the team."

Howard's best-case scenario was a five-month rehabilitation following his surgery.

"I went to see the doctor right before I got traded," Howard said. "And he said, 'Most guys don't recover as fast as you did. Especially when it affects the nerve down your leg. It usually takes a year for your leg to regain strength.'

"But by the grace of God, my leg was able to come back as fast as it did. That surprised me and the doctor and a lot of people."