It wasn’t that long ago that Dwight Howard was welcomed to the Lakers practice facility by Mitch Kupchak. He crooned to the newly acquired Lakers center how we wanted his jersey hanging in the rafters next to the Laker greats. It was all documented on the Lakers weekly TV show. To be nearly exact, it was 329 days ago that Dwight Howard arrived on the heels of that 4 team trade.
The Lakers had a centerpiece of a franchise to build around for Kobe’s last years, and the Lakers would be great.
It was much more recently though that Dwight Howard’s first season with the Lakers ended 20 minutes prematurely. He was ejected before the Lakers were swept out of the first round of the NBA playoffs by the San Antonio Spurs. Dwight Howard’s last image in a Lakers uniform is him walking through the tunnel, turning over his shoulder to yell something at Mitch Kupchak after he was ejected on his second technical.
Marv Albert asks the question immediately, “Is he gone for good? Or just this season?” Dwight finally answered that question on Twitter on Friday, announcing he would be joining the Rockets. This season was his last.
— Dwight Howard (@DwightHoward) July 6, 2013
Immediately after the season, the question was not “Is he gone?” but rather “Do we really want Dwight Howard for good?” Howard was unwanted by at least the fans in LA, if not the media, players, and management.
How quickly we forget
The suitors lined up the door ready to glad hand Howard, bring NBA Hall of Famers to meet him, and impress him with love and affection, all so that they could have the chance to not be disappointed by Howard next season. The Lakers, Rockets, Mavericks, Hawks, and Warriors were all said to be in the mix, and at his mercy. The Lakers even had simple, desperate billboards.
Now that he is with his new team the Rockets, once the adoration phase is over with, then the pressure mounts. Howard was unhappy with Orlando fans when they began to turn on him. His non-committal flirtation with every team but seemingly the Orlando Magic embittered fans against him, which negatively affected his play even before he needed season ending back surgery.
He was traded to the Lakers. And despite a new city, system, team, teammates, coach(es), and an old back to his credit he was out on the floor and playing. But never had the leading rebounder in the league been so underwhelming. The man who dunked on a 12 foot hoop, and threw down at the rim while wearing a cape was just a past YouTube highlight, or probably CGI’d by one of those movie studios in town. And the results for the team were more disappointing than his individual stats and play. The fans turned on him, and a disppointing season ended in a dubious ejection.
America likes giving people second chances, but Howard becomes a less likeable public figure everyday. Tony Kornheiser on PTI called it earlier than most: he likes the attention and wants to please everybody. Everybody is pleased except for the fans of his current team.
2013-12 season prediction: Houston Rockets, you will be disappointed. Dwight Howard is not Howard anymore. It is like how Amare Stoudamire isn’t what he once was. Injuries slowed them down. Amar’e has adapted, but Howard’s post moves were under-utilized as much as they were not evolving. A healthy Rockets team will be formidable, but Howard is not easy to deal with.
Good luck to the Houston Rockets next year, the Lakers newest rival–you may need it.
Is this good news for the Lakers, LA Sports Hubsters?