During a recent interview with the French magazine REVERSE, Dwight Howard talked about the workouts he’s had with Hakeem Olajuwon and how they helped him improve his game.

Here are some excerpts taken from BasketSession.com.

About the reason why he chose to work with Hakeem:

“A lot of people say that we have similar games. We’re both quick, very athletic and we like to move. He got in touch with me asked me if I wanted to come and work with him. I wasn’t about to turn this down because in order to be great you have to learn from the greatest. And I want to be the greatest, so I had to learn from the people that came before me.”

About what a guy like Olajuwon can bring him that no one else can:

“The thing that he helped me with is to be confident in myself and in my game. He was in total shock with all the things that I could do but he was also upset that I didn’t do those things (during games) in the past years. I brought a lot of this stuff out this year and it turned my game into another level.”

About the mental aspect of the game:

“The mental aspect is the most important when you play basketball. A lot of people looking from the outside think that it’s all physical, but basketball is a mental game. It’s sort of like a chess game. You have to be able to outsmart your opponent. You have to think without thinking on the court. It’s very tough to do when you’re young. When I first got into the league everything was so fast, the games, the season. But when you allow the game to slow down in your head you become a much better player.”

About working with Hakeem again this summer:

“That’s my plan. I’m just going to continue to keep working on my game with him. Keep getting better. We had a great time together last summer and we’re both looking forward to do it again this year. (Laughing) The Magic might sign him. (Serious now) He still could play right now. I would love to get down there and pick his brain. I think that the best part about talking to a legend is picking their brains and try to see what they think about the game, how they became confident in who they were as players. Those moments were the best times that I’ve had with him were not just working out but just sitting in the car and talking to him, man to man. That was the best.”

As told to Théophile Haumesser and Syra Sylla