The Los Angeles Lakers were swept last night, 4-0 in the first round by the San Antonio Spurs. Dwight Howard was ejected during the game early in the 3rd quarter leaving #LakerNation mummified in disbelief. Now that the tumultuous season is over, the real drama can begin.
In a four team blockbuster trade on August 10, 2012 started it all. Dwight Howard was now a L.A. Laker, joining forces with Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol, Metta World Peace, and new point guard Steve Nash. Many believed that the West was won before training camp even opened. The Lakers goal this season was to win a championship and win an heir apparent to Kobe Bryant to steer the franchise the next seven years, Dwight Howard.
Howard coming off back surgery started the season with limited mobility, which led to a very slow start for the team. A slow start not feasible for GM Jim Buss, who decided Mike Brown was not the right coach for his band of All-Stars, MVPs, and future Hall-of-Famers. Phil Jackson was next up, but Jim Buss decided to find a coach that fit Nash and Bryant’s style instead of Howard’s, Mike D’Antoni. The Lakers would go on to play below .500 most of the season.
Flashforward to April 13th, the Lakers on the back of Kobe Bryant’s 46 minutes per night, lose him for the rest of the season and playoffs. The hopes of #LakersNation rested now on the broad shoulders of the upcoming unrestricted free agent Dwight Howard.
How does Howard respond? Lakers get swept in round one and Howard checks out early. As Howard leaves the court headed to the locker room, for what may be the last time, out walks Kobe Bryant on crutches to the roar of the fans inside Staples Center. The captain wants to go down with the ship.
During the postgame press conference, Howard stated his apologies to #LakersNation and stressed how bad he felt to leave his teammates hanging, but when asked what will he do next season he replied, “don’t know.” We are all left to ponder for another summer.
Dwight’s decision to stay in Los Angeles will hinge on more than just a max contract. What will be the his demands to stay there? Many speculate that Howard would make bringing in Phil Jackson as the coach his ultimatum before signing long-term. #LakersNation would not have a problem with that, at all.
Would he request that they amnesty Kobe Bryant? Would Jim Buss be so crazy to do it? Howard’s description of this season was a “nightmare.” He has never been in the locker room with a star brighter than his before. He has never had a teammate that would play hurt for the entire game and not hold is tongue when speaking about his teammates before.
What if Howard decides not to return to L.A.? When you watch Brooke Lopez, Tyson Chandler, Andrew Bogut, Al Horford, and Serge Ibaka do you feel that Howard is still the absolute best center in the game? Would any fanbase in the NBA accept your star player getting ejected in game four of a playoff series?
So many question surrounding Dwight Howard, yet no answers…
Follow Rodney Fisher on twitter @RodneyRFisher