Lakers: Dwight Howard, Mike D’Antoni, and the season from hell.
Part 1 of 2: Dwight Howard (D12).
Just like every Lakers fan, I was crushed when the Purple and Gold were swept 4-0 by the Spurs, knocking them out of the 2012-2013 NBA Playoffs. Yet, I was strangely overcome by a noticeable amount of relief. Amongst my shattered state I thought, “thank goodness this horrendous season is over”.
To say it has been difficult supporting the Lakers in the 2012-2013 NBA season in an understatement. Between the firing of Mike Brown, the flirting with Phil Jackson, Jim Buss and his stupid decision to hire Mike D’Antoni, the teams’ identity struggles, their horrible record, Dwight Howards’ pubescent persona, the injuries to the team, and Kobe Bryant’s season ending injury; it has been exhausting.
It all started with the acquisition of Dwight Howard. A three time defensive player of the year, seven time All-Star, five-time NBA rounding leader, two time NBA shot blocking leader, five-time All-NBA First Team player, and a four-time NBA All-Defensive First Team selectee. Sounds like a promising pick up for the Lakers. Well since then, the NBA community has learnt just how much of a virus Howard is. How didn’t we figure this out after the awkward departure from Orlando? I will never know.
Dwight is an unrestricted free agent this coming summer. Sources close to the Lakers say they can offer him around $117 million over the next 5-years if he re-signs.
In the 2012-2013 NBA season, Dwight averaged 17.1 points, 12.4 rebounds, 2.4 blocks and 1.1 steals. Respectable numbers, yet with Howard’s size, strength, and athleticism, he should be the most dominant force in the NBA. Howard is recognised as one of the best, if not, the best center in the game today. It’s an unfair acknowledgement given the current era of weak big men in the NBA. When talking defensive, Howard can play; he is a great rebounder and shot blocker. In terms of work ethic, skill, and ability on the offensive end, compared to big greats such as Tim Duncan, Shaquille O’Neal, Patrick Ewing, David Robinson, Hakeem Olajuwon, and Moses Malone, Howard is miles behind.
Howard has been in the league for nine terms now; not once in his career have we seen him add anything new to his artillery. Every single off-season, a player should return to pre-season training with something new or improved in their game. Even throughout the season they should be fine-tuning their skill set. All great players with the drive and determination to win do this.
You’d think being regarded as possibly the top center in the game, that Howard would be in the same class as the leading players in the league; Dwight seems to think so, however this couldn’t be further from the truth.
Kevin Durant in the last few seasons has added a Dirk Nowitzki style one legged step-back jumper and a post up game; LeBron James has vastly improved his outside shot and worked with Hakeem Olajuwon to become a dominant low post player; Kobe Bryant’s outstanding work ethic has gone a long way in the development of his footwork and post play in recent years.
Dwight is a center and his post up game is awful. HE IS A CENTER AND HIS POST UP GAME IS AWFUL!!! There is no real evidence that suggests Howard can properly post up. He has no significant offensive move. In fact, the only distinct move in his attack is the pick and roll ally-oop dunk (a move even Kwame Brown can pull off). The majority of his points come off pick and rolls, alley-oop passes, and second chance put backs. Additionally Dwight’s shot and footwork are far from impressive.
I have never seen a player get so many offensive fouls; Howard picks up at least two a game. You don’t have to know an overwhelming amount about basketball to understand how to achieve good position on the court. Like most sports, you use your body and a low center of gravity; you don’t throw your arms out and swing them around.
Known for his power and strength, Howard doesn’t have a go to move in attack. Every great player in the league has an iconic move (or two), which they are notorious for on the offensive end; a shot that they are extremely comfortable taking; one that they shoot at a high percentage. Kevin Durant: stutter step, pull up jump shot at the top of the key. LeBron James: dribble jab, fade away jumper. Kobe Bryant: jab step jay or baseline, turn-around jumper. Dirk Nowitzki: one-legged fade away at the elbow. Russell Westbrook: pull up, elbow jay off a screen or on the break. Tim Duncan: 9-10 foot bank shot. Stephen Curry: behind the back crossover pull up; the list goes on.
Dwight Howard: Offensive foul?
These quality players all have the ability to take over a game in the fourth quarter. When they game is on the line, they demand the ball, they take and make big shots. They hit free throws, they care, and they don’t shy away from the spot light. Whether Howard is doing a skit from the movie 300 before a game, or one of his many disrespectful impersonations, the only spotlight Dwight enjoys is off the court.
Dwight impersonates his Orlando Magic coach, Stan Van Gundy.
Howard impersonates Charles Barkley, Shaquille O’Neal and Phil Jackson (All three will be or are already in the Basketball Hall of Fame).
Howard impersonates Kobe Bryant. Their first phone call after Dwight was picked up by the Lakers.
Who the hell does this guy think he is? Mimicking his coach (at the time), while they were publicly in the middle of a fued. Mocking three influential figures in NBA history? Howard hadn’t even scored a point as a Laker and was already impersonating Kobe Bryant?
Apart from Dwight’s poor work ethic and his lack of ability on offense, his major flaw is his mentality.
Is there a massive amount of pressure on Dwight Howard at the Lakers? Definitely.
Is it D12’s own fault? Undoubtedly. Certainly. Absolutely.
The Lakers are one of the most respected and significant franchises in NBA history. When Howard landed in LA and didn’t commit past the first season, he forced that pressure on himself. It’s something Lakers fans are not fond of or used to. What kind of message does it sent to Laker devotees when you constantly divert away from the question, ‘Will you re-sign with the Lakers next season?’.
Watching Kobe and Howard go head-to-head in the 2009 NBA Finals, notably their hand shake before Game 5, summed Howard up. The Lakers were up 3-1, meaning if the Orlando Magic team couldn’t get the victory, the Lakers would win the Championship. As Bryant and Dwight shook hands before the game, Howard was bopping around, giggling like a little schoolgirl. If my team was down 3-1 in the NBA Finals, and my ‘go to player’ was acting like that before a must win game, I’d be furious and surely questioning our chance of snatching a win.
Want to know what focus is?
Kobe Bryant 2008 NBA Finals.
I’ve previously specified how I dislike Howard’s attitude. I’m all for players having fun, but if you’re on the team I’m supporting, you need to take care of business on the court. When joining a veteran team, your demeanor needs to mature, especially when you have Kobe Bryant as your mentor. Bryant is going to challenge you, deal with it and learn from it. It’s how Kobe got 5 rings.
This is unacceptable. Once is ok, but that wasn’t the case.
Steve Nash is one of the most respected atheltes in NBA history, his incredible talent and high basketball IQ is truly amazing. Not only is Nash known for his on court skills, it’s also his charity work and community support that have made him so popular. Throughout Steve Nash’s whole career, not once have I seen him yell at his own team mate. Dwight and Nash went head-to-head a handful of times this season. Coincidence? I don’t think so.
From the endless dribble about his injured back, the complaints about not getting enough touches, to the erratic mood swings; there was a pathetic amount of shear crap projected from Howard’s mouth this season. I could dissect it all, however the article would never end.
From all the nonsense we have heard from Dwight this season, a few things are clear. He wants be the highest paid player on a team, he wants to be a part of a big historic organisation, he wants to be the first option on offense, he wants to show the NBA community he has what it takes to win, he doesn’t want to be put under too much pressure, and doesn’t want a whole lot of responsibility. How did he think any of that would work by signing with Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers?
Kobe Bryant suffers a season ending injury in the last few games before the playoffs. A few of Dwight’s wishes come true. He was the number one offensive threat, and had a great opportunity to silence all critiques and demonstrate how he can be the guy to lead the Lakers team, faithful, and organisation into the future.
D12 failed miserably. The Lakers were swept 4-0 by the San Antonio Spurs. During Game 4, the Lakers were down 21 points with 9:51 to go in the third quarter; Dwight’s weak mentality takes over.
The first video in this article was the second technical foul Dwight received, which was the reason behind his ejection (he got one in the first half; two technical fouls in a game and you are out). Down 0-3 in the series, down 21 points in the game, and knowing you already have one technical, it’s was an obvious move for Dwight Howard, and a classic example of his fragile mind. Why say anything at all to the referees if you already have one technical? You are in the playoffs, THE PLAYOFFS! His lack of respect for the organisation is evident.
Howard didn’t want to be on the court. The idea of sitting in the locker room and not finishing the game was much more appealing to him. When things get hard, Howard taps out. Dwight has no fight. He is the complete opposite of Kobe Bryant. Lakers fans do not want the opposite of Bryant. Why would we? Look at how much success he has produced.
Dwight has been nothing but trouble for the last two seasons. With the dysfunctional way in which he left the Magic, and the unwanted grief and media attention he has caused LA, this guy doesn’t have what it takes to be a Los Angeles Laker.
Should the Lakers re-sign him?
You shouldn’t have to preach effort, energy, and a passion to an athlete, let alone an NBA sportsmen playing for the famous Los Angeles Lakers. It would be a pathetic decision. Even more pathetic than the Knicks wearing all black to a close out game against Boston last week.
Stay tuned for: Lakers: Dwight Howard, Mike D’Antoni, and the season from hell.
Part 2: Mike D’Antoni.