The last ten years have been a whirlwind for the Los Angeles Lakers. A franchise that has been so dominant over the course of their existent fell down to earth and dealt with some seriously hard times. The tipping point that launched them into severe mediocrity was when they traded for Dwight Howard in 2012. While he was one of the best players in the NBA at the time, he never fit in with the team and only stuck around for one year before leaving.
There’s plenty of blame to go around for why the Howard experiment didn’t work in Los Angeles, but team owner Jeanie Buss is blaming coaching.
“I understand why he left because we hired a coach that didn’t respect his game and wasn’t going to put him in a position to succeed,” Buss said on Monday.
The coach that she is most likely referencing is Mike D’antoni, whose style of coaching has never been great for big men. That’s a pretty obvious dig from Buss and should only add to a potential Lakers-Rockets rivalry when the playoffs come around.
Howard Has Received Praise From Around the League
Very few superstar players in the NBA spend a long time at the top. While Howard was the best big man in the game for years, he now finds himself coming off the Lakers’ bench. Many wouldn’t be able to accept that kind of role, but he’s taking it in stride.
“For him to accept that role and thrive in that role that’s he’s in right now says a lot about his growth as a person, as a player,” said J.J. Redick, who played with Howard in Orlando, per The Athletic’s Bill Oram. “Just a ton of respect for him and what he’s doing right now.”
Redick isn’t the only one who has praised Howard.
“It’s always tough when a guy who’s used to averaging 20 and 10 has to take a role coming off the bench,” Paul Milsap, who also played with Howard, per Oram. “It’s tough for anybody, (but) for him to figure it out like that, man, kudos to him and it’s a great thing for him.”
Not everybody can reinvent themself, but Howard has managed to do it and seems to be having a lot of fun in his new role.
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First Lakers Stint Named Among ‘Worst Superstar Experiments’
Dwight Howard has done a lot to repair his image with Lakers fans, but there’s no denying that his first stint with the team was a complete disaster. According to Bleacher Report, Howard’s first tenure with the Lakers is among the “worst superstar experiments” ever.
What should’ve been a dynasty quickly turned into a dumpster fire as Howard was playing through injuries, Steve Nash couldn’t stay on the court and Kobe Bryant couldn’t play in the playoffs. Everything about the 2012-2013 season was a nightmare for Los Angeles and they haven’t been to the playoffs since. Fortunately for Howard, the Lakers should be back in the playoffs this year and if he could help get the time another championship, his redemption would come full circle.