August 10, 2012; El Segundo, CA, USA; Los Angeles Lakers center Dwight Howard holds his jersey during a press conference held to introduce the three-time defensive player of the year who they aquired in a four-team trade from the Orlando Magic. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

It's time to put up or shut up, Dwight Howard

Dwight Howard, you’ve been pampered for three days now. Representatives from five different teams have come to talk to you to tell you had great you are and how much they want you on their team. The likes of Mark Cuban, Mark Jackson, Daryl Morey, Danny Ferry and Mitch Kupchak have showered you with compliments (and even gifts).


Except for one man. One person told you straight up how it was going to be. Kobe Bryant treated you like a man, not like the boy you have a history of acting like. He challenged you instead of coddling you. He put the pressure on you like only the Black Mamba could.


What’s your next move going to be?


You’ve said for months that you want to put yourself in the best position to win titles. You want the best situation for you as a personality. Staring you in the face is the Los Angeles Lakers, the answer to both your demands.


But that’s only if you can handle the demands of playing on the Lakers. In Houston, Golden State, Dallas, or Atlanta, you’ll be seen as a savior. You’ll be the superstar who turned his back on the big bad Lakers and chose their franchise. You’ll be spoiled by the fans, babied by the front office, and never have expectations to live up to. If you want to avoid the pressure, you can take this easy road out.


In LA, you’ll be a new name on a long, but successful list. You won’t be the first franchise player, nor the last. But you’ll join the likes of George Mikan, Wilt Chamberlain, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Shaquille O’Neal, and most recently, Pau Gasol as big men who have been centerpieces in title winning teams. You wouldn’t be worshiped by the fans nor catered to by the front office. There would be pressure, but there would almost certainly be titles.


You can go to Atlanta and be surrounded by family and friends. You can go to Dallas, where they’ll build a team of players that best fit your style. You can join young stars in Houston or Golden State and launch them toward legitimacy. But Dallas just missed the playoffs, Golden State has missed 30 of the last 37 playoffs, Atlanta can’t even get out of the 2nd round in the East, and Houston hasn’t been out of the second round since the mid 90s.


In Los Angeles, you’ll join established stars. Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol, and Steve Nash have been in the league for many years. They’ve been All-Stars, named to All-NBA teams, and Bryant and Gasol have won titles. Mitch Kupchak and the Buss family have a pedigree that dwarfs other teams. They’ve won 10 titles since 1980, the most in that time frame. They will all demand a high-level of performance, but they’ll promise it leads success.


You’re at a crossroads that will determine your legacy, Dwight. Kobe bright has issued a challenge and a promise: stick with me and I’ll make you a champion. He told you what you needed to hear, not what you wanted to hear. You want to be a champion? You have to learn the ways of a champion. It’s not going to work the way you’re doing it right now, but Bryant will help you tweak it.


You may be mad that someone leaked the information, but that doesn’t change the message. It doesn’t change the ultimatum that’s been delivered. Do you want to be seen as someone who couldn’t handle the demands of one Kobe Bryant, and instead fled for the easier route?


This is your moment, Dwight. You’ve set yourself up for this over the course of your career. The decisions you’ve made have led to this moment. You’re responsible for putting yourself in this situation and you’ll be responsible for how you handle it.

Tags: Dwight Howard Free Agency 2013 Free Agent Los Angeles Lakers NBA

  • olga Irene

    Maybe no one told you,but the Lakers didn’t even make the play-offs.The Lakers are aging fast and Howard knows it.Kobe was a great player,but no one plays forever.Why they got an aging Nash,I’ll never understand.No,even Dwight Howard is smarter than that!He’ll probably end up in Houston.

    • stucktrader

      Uh… yeah… THEY MADE the playoffs…

      and beat higher seeded teams(GS, Hou, Spurs) to get the privilege to be swept by the Spurs… with injuries to Kobe, Nash, Blake, and Meeks…

      The Lakers might be better off with D12 walking… and waiting until 2014 to contend… At that time they can get Kobe and Pau to more reasonable contracts (if Kobe and Pau really want to win, they play for the same $ as Nash). K-love is their best target and whatever wings that can shoot and play D….

      Kobe is still a great player… it’s amazing how he schools the younger guys at his age…

      • stucktrader

        The thing is… the Rockets run a similar pick and roll system like the Lakers… the Rockets will have to cater to D12… if they do that… they wont get to the Finals…

        Kobe knows he messed up in his younger days… If he and Shaq and better chemistry… and Shaq actually worked out in the off season, they might have won 6… or more than what Lebron promised in Miami…

        • ClipShip

          I think a lot of people are assuming that D12′s #1 priority is winning championships. I don’t know if that’s the case. The Rockets would surely build an offensive system around D12. Their coach was one of the best big men in NBA history and the franchise has a number or terrific bigs in its history. The other big plus to going to Houston would be that D12 wouldn’t have to play with Kobe anymore.

          I agree with your points about the Kobe/Shaq feud. Shaq certainly deserves his fair share of blame for how that went down, but Kobe was equally guilty. Kobe’s immaturity and inability to work with others is still alive and well, and we’ve seen it on full display this past season and with his efforts to supposedly convince D12 to stay. Kobe would have two fistfuls of rings if he were able to swallow his (massively inflated) pride and be a good teammate.

          • stucktrader

            I was referring to Kobe when i said, “Kobe knows he messed up in his younger days” referring to not playing within the team concept and trying to be MJ… so in other words we’re in agreement…

            yeah he would have gotten at least 6… if he and Shaq were on the same page… Maybe their letting Jerry West go in that case wasnt a good thing… But He and Phil was another issue….

      • ClipShip

        The Lakers are not better off with D12 walking. Regardless of what you think of him personally, he is an elite big man in the NBA. He’s the best center in the NBA. He is a game changer on defense. If D12 stays, the Lakers are championship contenders. If D12 leaves, the Lakers have zero chance of winning the championship this year.

        Kobe is still a great player, but he’s an extremely selfish player who regularly puts his own glory above the team. He sabotages the offense on almost every possession, and now he is sabotaging the team off the court by helping to push D12 out the door. Kobe can’t win a championship by himself, and his refusal to be a better teammate of D12′s shows that Kobe isn’t all about winning after all.

        I’m not a huge D12 fan and I think he often behaves immaturely, but in this case I think it is 100% the front office’s fault if D12 leaves. They hired D’Antoni over a coach that would build a system around D12. They allow Kobe to continue sabotaging the team on and off the court. And they didn’t make a compelling argument for D12 to stay.

        • stucktrader

          Its all a domino effect from the Front Office… Bypassing Rick Adelman (who has coached the contending Sac Kings in the early 2000s ).

          Mike Brown hire was the start of their down fall… It led to the desperation hire of D’antoni for Nash’s sake… or even trading for Nash instead of developing a PG…

          The offense Adelman runs did not require the Lakers trading a 1st round pick for Ramon Sessions… He would have played a big man offense for Pau and Dwight had he been around…

          Its all old news at this point…

          The Lakers though- offensively – will be better with Pau @ the 5. But their defense will be horrible unless they find undrafted wing defenders… or a solid Vet willing to take a pay cut…

          Its all about 2014 for the Lakers…

          2013/14 season is about who will be able to stop the Heat…. Pacers, Nets, Bulls, Spurs, Rockets, Clips, and maybe the Griz… (sorry OKC you just dont match up well against them)… will take their turn

    • ClipShip

      The prospect of Kobe retiring would be a positive for D12 returning to the Lakers, not a negative. Kobe previously indicated that he was going to retire after this coming season, which would provide a great opportunity to transfer the reigns of the Lakers’ franchise to D12. But now Kobe is saying that he wants to play another 3-4 years, which surely is a turn off for D12. No star player wants to play with Kobe.

      • stucktrader

        I guess it depends on who is on THAT roster at the time… If D12 doesnt get a ring in Houston, he will move… or if the Rockets learn from LA and ORL, trade him…

        It will be a fun year to see what develops… Even for the (at best) low seeded Lakers…