Since leaving the Lakers for Houston, Dwight Howard has thrown just about every Laker player, coach, and front office member under the proverbial bus. He’s criticized the players for not sticking up for him, D’Antoni for not running the offense through him, and Mitch Kupchak for not hiring Phil Jackson. One by one, players have fired back, from Kobe Bryant to Steve Nash, then former players like Shaquille O’Neal and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Now, add Mike D’Antoni to the list.
D’Antoni talked with the Daily News in an article posted yesterday to talk about last season and what this season will hold. The biggest quote was when D’Antoni brought up Howard playing in Houston.
“The thing that cracks me up is Houston, they do the exact same thing,” D’Antoni said, laughing. “And so (Howard) is gonna go to Houston? OK, so did they talk about change there? Don’t tell me that it’s that different.”
The Lakers head coach confirmed what others had said in Howard’s reluctance to run a pick-and-roll offense.
Howard never was completely healthy and refused to buy into his role. He fancied himself as a dominating low-post force the offense should run through.
“There was just a lot of conflict, emotionally,” D’Antoni said. “People were not settled in their roles. But it’s funny because a lot of times players will say ‘I don’t know my role.’ It’s not that you don’t know it, you just don’t accept it.”
Howd’s insistence that he’s a low-post scorer is both trivial and frustrating. Stats strongly suggest he’s a far more effective player when he’s in the pick-and-roll, but Howard appears dead set on being dead set on proving himself as a low-post scorer, a la Shaq or Hakeem. Problem is, his array of post moves is just slightly bigger than Kwame Brown’s.
“He’s a force and he can be really, really good and dominate the league,” D’Antoni said. “But it’s in an area that he’s not loving right now. He wants to dominate a different way, in the low post and all that. But he needs to get better there, and he will. But his greatness is in defense and being a physical force. I think he’d be better served if he embraces that.
Howard will continue to burn bridges in Los Angeles, and Lakers will keep firing back. But it shows what a family atmosphere the Lakers create. While Dwight is the only one “trashing” the Lakers, Kobe and Nash and D’Antoni and Shaq and Kareem and even more have defended the Lakers shows how close they are with the franchise.