Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

This Is Not The Dwight Howard Lakers Traded For

Whether it’s his lingering backs issues, the torn labrum in his shoulder, his rude awakening to playing in a major media market for a team with championship or bust expectations or his inability to find a rhythm in Mike D’Antoni’s ill-fitted system this Dwight Howard in nowhere near the one Mitch Kupchak traded for.

This Howard is a scared child cowering in the corner as a storm rolls in, his eyes closed in anticipation of the moment the clouds break.

This Howard is afraid of confrontation, happy to let his father say publicly what he can’t even mutter privately to his teammates.

This Howard is a bust and were it not for Andrew Bynum’s complete vanishing act in Pennsylvania I’d say the Lakers were the ones who got damaged goods instead of being the ones who sold a ruined product.

When last we saw the Lake Show they were in Miami melting in the fourth quarter like so many cream sickles bought by LeBron James for children on South Beach. That is nothing new this season. These Lakers finish about as well as a relationship with Taylor Swift.

What has unfortunately become all too common is for Howard give a token effort only Stanley Roberts would admire.

Again, we can rehash all the health reason why Howard isn’t producing but the bottom line is he’s not even trying most nights he does suit up.

Plenty are questioning Howard’s true health status. Fair or unfair when the men you go to war with are giving mixed signals on how they truly feel then something is certainly amiss. Most telling of all is that Howard’s most recent shoulder flare up one week ago in Phoenix featured Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol walking away from the wounded big man while he was lying on the court in pain. Only Steve Nash came to his aide until Gary Vitti took over.

That about says it all. It says whether or not Howard is healthy enough to play his best is irrelevant. He’s on the court, in uniform so he’s expected to contribute in some meaningful way.

Last time I checked shoulder injuries don’t make men shrink. Howard is still a 6’11” physical freak the likes of which we’ve never seen in the NBA. He’s also a mental midget on par with junior high cheerleaders distraught over a snarky post on their Facebook page.

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

For the record I never held Howard in high regard after seeing how little he dominated in the NBA Finals against the Lakers in ’09. I remember watching that five game series anticipating the moment when Howard would realize he was being checked by Gasol thus given free rein to go off for 40 and 20 on any given night.

That never happened and now it’s looking like his number hanging amongst names like Mikan, Chamberlain, Abdul-Jabbar and O’Neal is about as certain as JaMarucs Russell hoisting a Lombardi trophy.

Though I never dared to compare Kobe and Dwight to Kobe and Shaq I naively thought in this era of small ball that having KB24, The Spaniard and D12 was enough to at least get this franchise back to the realm of being in the discussion.

The exact opposite has held true as the Lakers are still outside in the cold while the playoff race heats up.

That Howard would complain to the media about not getting touches yet cannot say so to his teammates says it all. It says he’s onboard as a passenger instead of trying muscle control of the vessel away from the captain.

Say what you will of the Kobe-Shaq feud but at least you had two men who wanted to be leading the charge. That sure beats having a man-child that is more child than man content to ride in the back of the bus so long as he gets his check.

This Dwight Howard is not the only reason why the Lakers are underachieving. In stature he certainly is the biggest which makes his meager appearance all the more disconcerting.

To win Kobe Bryant is willing to do anything even redefine his game at the 11th hour. What will Howard sacrifice? Apparently only his stats if they’re still good for a phat new contract after this port-a-potty storm settles.

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