When the Lakers took the court on Sunday evening for the last time in 2013, the PA announcer had to remind the crowd on hand this was the Los Angeles Lakers. . .not the Los Angeles Defenders. Looking out at center court poised and ready for the jump ball was D-League MVP Andrew Goudelock. There was no Kobe Bryant. He would later reveal himself dramatically as another Laker exited unceremoniously. There was no Steve Nash or Blake, Shaq is retired, and although I think he could help another team win a title, there is no Robert Horry as he sits in the Time Warner’s studio in El Segundo.
Joining the D-League’s Goudelock was Darius Morris, Earl Clark, Pau Gasol, and Dwight Howard. The scene preceding the destruction was a small sliver of hope barely eclipsing the forthcoming and ongoing embarrassment. The Lakers were out of it, everyone knew it, but Dwight Howard put a familiar, premature end to his embarrassment as the Lakers center.
After receiving a technical foul early in the game, Howard was ejected early in the 3rd quarter for arguing a call. His second technical, ejection, and ultimately frustration is reminiscent of the end of Andrew Bynum and the Lakers’ season in 2011.
On Dallas’ way to thoroughly dismantling the Lakers in Game 4 of their series sweep en route to an NBA title, Andrew Bynum had seen and been through enough. He delivered this Flagrant 2 foul on JJ Barea, unremorsefully transferring the pain he felt to Barea.
Dwight Howard is not Shaq. In more ways than 1, this is obvious and also reiterated constantly by Shaq himself on the TNT studios set. Whether his comments are intended to be motivational is a moot point.
Dwight Howard is Andrew Bynum. Both young, immature centers hung the rest of their teammates out to dry when they escaped the public humiliation of remaining gametime. They traded their short term pain for their long term reputation. Maybe Howard didn’t deserve to be tossed. But Bynum certainly did.
Widely regarded as the best center in the league, Dwight Howard can compare stats and impact to anyone and it results in a favorable comparison. So Dwight Howard performed light-years ahead of a center who didn’t register one minute of playing time this season. But he is no Shaq. He technically is more like Bynum.
Howard was virtually a saint off the court this year. He didn’t throw any teammates or coaches under the bus (other than Mike Brown). But prepare for this ejection to be the springboard for the kind of immature drama we grew to expect from Andrew Bynum. Both of their uncertain futures will fuel a difficult offseason.