Dwight Howard

(Source: Scott Halleran/Getty Images North America)

*The Houston Rockets received an official warning this week from the NBA regarding Dwight Howard’s admitted use of Stickum in a recent game against the Atlanta Hawks, ESPN.com reports.

The league office notified its 30 teams via league memorandum that the Rockets were issued a formal warning because of “the team’s use of an adhesive substance on a player’s hands during a game.” According to NBA rules, use of any adhesive substance “is strictly prohibited.”

Howard says he’s surprised and disappointed that he’s being labeled a cheater – after Atlanta’s Paul Millsap complained about the ball while shooting free throws in the first quarter Saturday. Howard had made a layup before Millsap’s free throws, and said Monday that he doesn’t understand why all the fuss, considering he’s never been the type of player “to do something illegal.”

“I just think that it’s getting overblown, like I’m doing something crazy,” he said. “But again, I’ve never been a cheater, never been the type of player that has to do something illegal to win. It’s upsetting, but I can’t control it now.”

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Howard noted that many players use sprays and powders on their hands during games, including himself.

”I’ve been using the spray for the last five years,” he said. “I never hid the spray. I never did anything to try to hide what I was doing. It was just something to make my hands dry.”

The warning will be the extent of the punishment for Howard and the Rockets. There was no penalty issued during the game.

According to the Journal-Constitution, Rockets coach J.B. Bickerstaff tried to hide the can of adhesive from sight but was caught by referee crew chief Monty McCutchen, who investigated before going to each bench and issuing the warning: “Stickum is illegal in the NBA.”

Bickerstaff was surprised when reporters asked about the warning, and denied their accusations that the team tried to hide the can of spray from the officials.

“Every time Dwight goes into the game, it’s the same routine,” he said. “It was no cover-up on my part.”

Bickerstaff added:

“He’s never run to the back in the locker room to try to trick anyone,” he said. “It was never brought to our attention. No one’s ever said anything to us about it. If you go back, you can watch every single one of our games for the past three years. It’s [the can] there, so we were obviously surprised by the attention it has drawn.”