Can Dwight Howard, Kobe Bryant Coexist?
Can Dwight Howard, Kobe Bryant Coexist?, For the all-star center to thrive in L.A., he’ll need to tone down his larger-than-life persona. Dwight Howard joins Lakers, needs to leave clown act behind in Orlando, After a pre-trade deadline telephone call when Dwight Howard and Kobe Bryant hung up believing they could never co-exist as teammates, months and months passed and, still, the two superstars never spoke again. Howard wanted Bryant to tell him what the Lakers could do to elevate his offensive stature, and Bryant wanted Howard to tell him he was determined to come with a defensive and rebounding mindset to make the Lakers champions again.
The call ended poorly, and it wouldn’t be long until Howard had turned toward a path of far less resistance with the Brooklyn Nets.
As much as anything, Howard was determined to stop marching down the path of Shaquille O’Neal: From No. 1 overall pick to ring-less Orlando Magic center to self-proclaimed Superman, comedian and goofball musician, there was a part of Howard that resisted the inevitable power play to also make him a Laker.
Nevertheless, Howard made a mess of an easy exit out of Orlando, obliterating his march into a max-contract salary slot with Deron Williams and the Nets with an impulsive choice to reject his contract opt-out. Freedom of choice was gone, and the Magic wouldn’t do a deal with Brooklyn.
In the end, Howard needed the Lakers and Bryant. And yes – for now and the future – Bryant and the Lakers needed Howard. The trade was completed on Friday and Howard gets the bright lights, big city and a championship chase with the Lakers. Howard gets his Showtime, but make no mistake: Howard comes without leverage in the locker room and doesn’t have the latitude to revert back to his old class-clown self.
“I think that changes just by the pressure that he’s under now,” Bryant told Yahoo! Sports late Friday night “That pressure is on us all. We have to win championships. The focus will be higher, the intensity will be higher.”
Yes, the Lakers need a serious-minded star for a serious-minded basketball franchise. Stan Van Gundy tried so, so hard to instill that within Howard, but the culture of Orlando always made the Magic beholden to Howard. No more. Howard is bigger than life, but he isn’t bigger than the Lakers.