(Reuters) - Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard will undergo back surgery on Friday and miss the NBA playoffs and Olympic Games, ESPN reported on Thursday.
The Magic have secured a place in the Eastern Conference playoffs but will be without their six-times All Star, who faces four months out after doctors discovered he had a herniated disk.
“The doctor said it’s a one-inch incision,” Howard was quoted as saying by ESPN.com. “He said I can start rehab right away and be back to full contact in four months. So I‘m not really concerned. If anything, I’ll come back stronger”.
Howard’s absence will come as a major blow to Orlando’s hopes in the playoffs but the center said he believed they could still make progress.
“If the guys come together, we still have a chance,” he said. “I know what we have in that locker room. I’ve seen it in spurts this season. I’ve told them, ‘We don’t have to be the biggest or the strongest, we just have to believe.'”
Howard has missed eight games this season due to his back problems.
The 26-year-old was part of the gold medal winning U.S. Olympics team in Beijing in 2008 and was named to the initial roster for London.
Reporting By Simon Evans; Editing by Peter Rutherford