Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports
This season is slowly revealing all of the issues I’ve been pointing out for over a year now. Yes, I’m taking to my soap box to do a little self promotion as I detailed most every issue this Laker team was going to face this season once the trifecta of Steve Nash, Dwight Howard and Mike D’Antoni were in place.
Now I take no pride in seeing my team toil in the most hideous form of play a squad this talented has ever seen. This is painful.
However all my supposed negativity is finally validated as many of those who had their blinders on are now being awakened in the reality of a mess not even BP would want to be associated with.
For Nash and D’Antoni my critiques were obvious. Neither has ever seen high pressure like playing in Los Angeles. Neither plays a style of ball that has ever led to championship banners being raised. And neither has even seen their team’s logo on an NBA court for a finals game. It was a no brainer how their brief tenures would go in Los Angeles.
However despite my many concerns, all of which you can have a miserable afternoon digging through in cyberspace, I still held some hope that Dwight Howard would see the light in Los Angeles.
Not only was I wrong to assume something might change but I fell victim to gambler’s fallacy by ignoring all the concerns I already knew existed.
In Orlando Howard was allowed to do as he wished because he played for a franchise where expectations were minimal and criticism was almost non-existent. Howard’s diva nature, his passive-aggressive attitude and the many holes in his game were overlooked by impressive box scores and a joking personality.
It wasn’t until the Dwightmare unfolded last season that most of the national media finally fixed its microscope on D12. Rapidly his happy-go-lucky nature was exposed as nothing more than a mask worn by an insecure man afraid of confrontation.
But that is all sports psychologist babble. The real was that Lakers fans saw Howard on the biggest stage possible in the NBA Finals just a few years previous. What many of us took away from that series was that Howard was never going to be in the pantheon of All-Time great big men unless he found something inside to drive him to greatness.
We’ve seen Shaquille O’Neal dominate like no other and he did so in an era when size mattered. In this new NBA size has suddenly become a disadvantage. Teams are playing small ball so you’d think the few giants in the game would stand tall above all. If anyone Howard would be the dominant factor that could have shifted Orlando’s momentum away from L.A. during that five game series back in ‘09. In the end Howard was good but not great.
So flash forward to 2013 and we’re getting the Dwight I expected. A moody, childish, insecure, afraid and unmotivated talent content to be good yet with no desire to be great.
Howard looks every bit the part of a man happy to clock-in and clock-out never striving to work his way up the ladder, forever expecting hand outs and never doing whatever it takes to win at all costs.
While D’Antoni’s dumbfounding decisions are surely a large reason why Howard has become such a non-factor and the injury issues are impossible to ignore, it’s his antics and body language that says it all.
This is a man that has never been confronted by a strong personality like that of Kobe Bryant. This is a child that never grew up always deflecting danger with an awkward grin. This is a player with enough talent to drop 20-20 a night yet no fire burns hot enough to fuel that ability.
If being in Los Angeles, a city that has supported the greatest big men of All-Time, isn’t enough to get Howard out of the sandbox and into the paint then nothing will. I’m sad to admit my many negative reviews of Howard written before he put on Purple and Gold are coming to fruition. I take no pride in seeing this happen. Only wonder why so few of us saw what was so obvious. Times of conflict reflect the true character of a man. Howard is obviously still a child.