Will Week Of Mourning And Remembrance Bring Clarity For Howard?

HANG TIME SOUTHWEST – Dwight Howard is coming to Dallas.

That is, he’s coming with his Los Angeles Lakers teammates Sunday for a high noon (CT, ABC) showdown against the Mavericks, an important matchup for two franchises uncomfortable with being out of the playoff mix and determined to get in.

In Big D, sports radio has buzzed about Howard signing with the Mavs since the day his three-team wish list surfaced last year, with Dallas next to Brooklyn and the Lakers. With each dose of drama from L.A., hope floats that the game’s most dominant center will soon come to stay.

Local air-wave chatter with the Lakers coming has been off the charts. Brooklyn is virtually out of the picture and Howard’s L.A. story soured long ago, so, “Why not Dallas?” is the dialogue now. The morning talk guys are pleading for a Dwight love-in Sunday at the American Airlines Center. Because, really, that’s all that the playful Howard really wants, to be loved, right? To be part of a tight-knit family, to be cheered by loyal fans through thick and thin?

In a most unexpected way, the passing of the Lakers’ visionary patriarch, Dr. Jerry Buss, and the emotional proceedings this week might somehow pierce Howard’s hardening exterior and help clarify what lies ahead. During this sad week of mourning and remembering in L.A., perhaps a glint of inner-peace — or at least a clearer understanding of his time and place — will nestle into Howard’s too-often conflicted noggin.

Howard has likely never experienced the varying emotions that he has witnessed since the organization announced Monday that Buss lost his fight with cancer at age 80. That emotion erupted in every nook and cranny of the proud Lakers franchise that Howard has known for all of eight months. It touched the core of the Lakers’ vast fandom. It swelled throughout the city of Los Angeles.

During Thursday’s memorial service at Nokia Theater, Howard, 27, watched as Lakers greats Jerry West, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Magic Johnson, Kobe Bryant and the original Superman, Shaquille O’Neal  (often critical of Howard), paid tribute to the man who created Showtime, the most glamorous and glorious enterprise the league has ever seen.

Magic asked all past and present Lakers players and coaches, about 50, to stand and be recognized. Earlier, Kobe appealed directly to his teammates.

“For our current Lakers,” Kobe said, “I encourage all of you to look around the room, look at the greatness of one man’s vision, look at the players that are here, coaches that are here; we have one thing in common, we all believe in Dr. Jerry Buss. We are playing for something bigger than ourselves, bigger than a single season, playing for the memory of a great man, Dr. Jerry Buss.”

It should have served as a humbling moment for Howard, a player boasting all the physical gifts to thrive but whose immaturity and indecision have damaged his reputation. It should have made his differences with Kobe — Howard’s polar-opposite, a hard-driving, unrelenting, five-time champion — seem infantile and insignificant.

The night before, Howard played his most inspired game of the season with 24 points and 12 rebounds to beat Boston in something rare this year, a Lakers’ rout. He said he had been thinking all day about getting the win for Dr. Buss. On Friday he played through pain and posted 19 points and 16 rebounds in a hard-fought home win over Portland. Before he tweaked his right shoulder, Howard had 15 and eight in the first half.

Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak this week heeded the advice of the local Dallas talk show hosts and showered the chiseled, 265-pound Howard with loving praise on national radio. Kupchak even said that Howard, who will become a free agent on July 1, should one day have a statue in front of Staples Center. He told Howard to trust him. Told him the future of the great Los Angeles Lakers belongs to him.

The Lakers have opened their arms to Howard. And all he’s had to do is watch and listen to understand what that means. The franchise is Howard’s — if he wants it.

As he repeated during All-Star weekend, he won’t be rushed: “This is my life, this is my career, it’s my legacy…”

All of that comes to Dallas on Sunday.

50 Comments

  1. SHAQKOBE says:

    HOWARD should be traded for TYSON CHANDLER….
    if LAKERS make it… it will be a first round Exit.

  2. Sean says:

    Is this real? or is Dwight really waking up?
    Check out more Lakers talk
    on awesomereadings.blog.com

  3. Josh d says:

    Jerry buss r.i.p my Niga lakers will never be the same wit out him

  4. Mike o says:

    Becareful with the lakers sustaining greatness comment, do remember they have lost the really the great mind behind the operation in dr buss, his son has already proved that he makes decisions on impulse and not studying or doing the homework, to be honest I like steve nash but I thought he only brings more age to a aging roster, I thought kylie lowry from toronto would of not only be cheaper but more youth and he holds his own against elite point guards, I like howard but he is pretty hurt and he needs this season to really recover, I would of tried to get tyson chandler he has a gift of impacting the game in a strange but positive way, he would also allow kobe to be kobe, defend pau when he gets pushed around, run the pick and roll a bit stronger, and man the middle a bit stronger at this point right now. O and dantoni just doesnt fit this roster lol.

  5. Dictator says:

    they will enter the playoffs !

  6. TakeMeOutDumbToni says:

    everyone knows kobe mamba had adjust his games to a facilitator from a point maker and vice versa.Mamba is doing everything he can and even pledges his team will be on playoffs. how about his other team mates d12, nash former best defender/center and an mvp , should tried also their best and make adjustment or challenge themselves more to make each game a clear ‘W” . and one more thing, their stubborn head coach need to fix things especially in defense as everyone knows he hasn’t any. only then lakers can make a good run upto 5th spot..

  7. digitioli says:

    We’ll see. The logic of the article is that Howard will come to his senses and realize that he could be great and thus will become great. Problem is, he already thinks he is great. If you asked him why the Lakers aren’t winning, I don’t think he would volunteer that much or any of the blame rests on his shoulders. Phil Jackson was right though, they don’t have a plan for getting him the ball down low, and that is 2 pig headed selfish people’s fault: D’Antoni and Kobe. If this team as is were set up properly, Howard would get 7 or 8 bunnies a game along with 15 rebounds because he’d be in the right place. Same with Pau. It’s beyond stupid. They have the 2 best big men in the league out of position watching the killer snake.

  8. Joseph_03 says:

    As a Laker fan, I should be honest at the state of the team. At this point to get into the playoffs would be an achievement, to win a series specially entering the playoffs as an 8th seed would be fantastic, to reach the conference finals would be awesome, the finals or even winning it all is greatness.

    The thing is we should pray that Dwight resigns and fully recovers then realizes that his best shot at greatness lies with this franchise. I’m not saying he’ll fail with other franchises or not achieve his full potential with other teams, it’s just that no other team in the NBA has shown the willingness to spend and build a team the way the Lakers do. Maybe the Nets with their Billionaire owner can but he can not sustain it yet, the franchise does not yet earn the way the Lakers do.

  9. Lordy says:

    When going through an 82-game NBA season and posting articles every day to meet the demands of supporters, of course some of them are going to be pointless or average

  10. Rishabh says:

    Events such as these are likely to have deep impact on the psyche of the players. Standing in the light of the glorious history that lakers boasts of and playing next to a living legend – Kobe Bryant – can surely pump up some adrenalin. Once Howard gets the Lakers feel, he and the team mates would go hammer and tongs. And that time, my friends, might just have arrived.

  11. rye says:

    i have only 1 thing in my mind now; After kobe’s era lakerland will try to pursue either LBjames or KD… that;s the fact!

  12. Rabags says:

    Anyone who calls Kobe overrated, really hates the Lakers! With 5 championships, didn’t miss being included in the ALL STAR games, MVPs and still playing despite several injuries, and you call the BLACK MAMBA overrated? You’re so stupid and so ignorant of the game! That ceremony for the late Dr. Buss with all the Lakers legends around serves as a wake-up call for Howard. With his’ and Kobe’s A game, no question they will be in the playoffs. Once there, the Lakers will be the team to beat. They have done it before, surely they can do it again and again being the Champions! Go Lakers!

  13. SHAQKOBE says:

    FAB MELO & JOSH HOWARD can beat the HEAT.
    not CARMELO & DWIGHT….

  14. SHAQKOBE says:

    HOWARD doesnt fit in LAKERS…
    MELO & HOWARD should team up to beat the HEAT….

  15. JY says:

    No team is any better on paper on the starters than lakers. it is not the offense that is the problem. it is the D. when Jakeson is around, lakers seldom gets exposed defensively. in the first 20 games or so, the D was missing.
    but now looking at the D from the bench gives some hope that Lakers might make it to playoff. They are more willing to run and chase down shooters from perimeter and keeping D tight in the paint.
    as for PG, i think he cannot compliment the starters. he needs the ball in his hand often to be effective and being a good player as he is, he expects it. but between KB, DH and SN, he is not getting much touches. his perimeter shooting is bad as well. Even Clark is shooting better than him, including 3 pt range.
    Paul needs to play with the bench and be their center focus of offense. he can compliment the starters towards the 3rd and 4th quarter whenever he is needed.

    • Denzo says:

      Nash has the highest shooting percentage in the NBA when shooting outside of the key.. Great call you made – idiot!!!

  16. Anonymous says:

    What a great complement by Kupchak about Howard’s future in LA. Howard would be wise to positively acknowledge it but anything could happen in the NBA with trades and injuries. Howard as of late has not played like a dominant center like he once did. He seems to play with more caution as if he does not want to get injured or aggravate one of his previous injuries. He needs to continue to develop his game. Perhaps becoming a better mid range jump shooter and less of a power player similar to Dirk would help his game. Also, having a mentor in L.A. to work with him like he had Ewing in Orlando could help Howard mature and develop his game as a player faster.

  17. lakersloyalty24 says:

    kobe is the best he is the mamba and we need dwight too hes the best center in the leauge we are goin to the playoffs and goin to the finals mark my words…

    • If the lakers were to go to the finals which they won’t even make the playoffs the heat would stomp on them like they did in the regular season mark my words…

      • TheStarMiddleschooler says:

        I dont like miami because im a Die hard OKC fan… I give them there props but Lakers? to the finals? BECAUSE OF KOBE? do you know what you just said? Kobes last 2 rings didnt even come from him… Bynum and Pau did all the work and Pau isnt even the best Gasol brother.

  18. Chibi Mie says:

    Many of those posting about the quality of this article sound like they have the maturity and sensibilities of a 14 year old. What goes on in the heart, mind, and soul have as much bearing on performance as athleticism, hard work, all the other externalities. Here’s hoping that recent events have a salutary effect on Howard and the Lakers.

  19. Tanacious says:

    They’ll get to the playoffs. The biggest worry right now should be resigning Dwight. They obviously can’t be NBA champs though.

  20. Kobe_Fans_r_idiots says:

    Dwight’s not a problem. Kobe is. Bynum wasn’t happy in LA. Gasol wasn’t but is soft so stayed in Kobe’s shadow despite being the best player in championship runs. Now Dwight’s not happy. Nash’s not happy. Yet it’s Mike Brown’s fault, D’antoni’s fault, Dwight’s fault, and never Kobe’s. Kobe’s the first player to whine so often publicly and everyone’s got fed up. Nearly all hate Kobe and they know he’s overrated. This is sad but he’s still the most marketable player and always has been. The league just capitalized on it. For instance the Lakers were always a better team without Kobe in Shaq’s era. When Shaq was injured they were 11-12. When Kobe was injured, they were .780% winning team. When both were healthy they were .720. It is exactly what happened because Kobe tried to be da man often hurt the team.

    • Adam says:

      Overrated? How can someone who’s got 5 rings be overrated? Only a few NBA players achieve that feat. Yes, he couldn’t have done it without Shaq or Gasol, but Jordan couldn’t have done it without Pippen and your Queen James couldn’t have done it without Wade and Bosh. When an NBA player has a decorated career like Kobe, that’s just merely becuase he’s overrated? I beg to disagree. It takes a lot of hard work and heart to get to where Kobe is right now, and as I said, not a lot of NBA players have that. A lot of players before him, good ones, have never achieved that feat. And by the way, the NBA’s capitalizing on Queen James right now, trending articles that highlight his game perofrmance like he’s on fire or something, in case you haven’t noticed it yet. However, while Kobe’s around, James will be overshadowed by Kobe’s career.

    • retrojordan87 says:

      30,000 and counting!5 championships!! all star apperances since what 1998! mvp trophy! finals mvps! hes alot of things over-rated??? no!!! people like josh smith and monta ellis are over-rated people who could command max contracts but lead u nowhere…… you live and die by kobe as a laker fan and we have all lived pretty well!!!!! and i agree dwight isnt a problem everything will click and no team wants to see lakers first round no matter what!

  21. BUSS says:

    Don’t give up on the Lakers or Gasol

  22. Lakers says:

    Trade Gasol, he has no impact on the team

  23. Ritesh says:

    Trade Gasol for Josh Smith! Done! We have a championship contending team.

    • TheStarMiddleschooler says:

      Something i can agree in. Release Dwight Coward during F/A and save the money and get Lebron during the F/A when his contract ends

  24. David says:

    240? Howard’s 240? Yeah. Right. Maybe when he was 16. More like 285 or something.

  25. Kobe says:

    @joey boy: Dude, stop saying things like this because you’re making yourself look stupid.. Understood? Lakers doesn’t need TRADES. How about trying to use your brain a little bit, will ya?

  26. LA_PITY says:

    and there goes another nonsense Lakers article

    • TheStarMiddleschooler says:

      Lets Start reviewing the Pistons or Bucks or Kings or Pacers or even the Angry Seattle fans…Still better articles then this nonsence

  27. DANITo says:

    why the lakers need veteran players , thats really stupid, they full of veteran players. what they need is energy and young legs. they need young players. the whole team is veterans. wow that was really stupid to say

  28. steakneck says:

    Worst article on NBA.com ever? It just might be.

  29. Me says:

    I would stay, not just for buss, championships, legacies, no… That dough $$$

  30. Matty says:

    You should perhaps work on your grammar. Their -> They’re

  31. Ron Artest Peace says:

    @joey boy, it’s the other way around, the Lakers NEED younger players.

    It’s good to see Dwight like this. I pray that he would find more humility and he would simply be lifted up by the Lord. He can be dominant. Not the best ever but the best he could be. I believe in the Lakers. I believe in Dwight.

  32. Dom says:

    He is not the most dominate big man stop even mentioning that, that was before he got traded

    • paul says:

      i agree. bynum is….

      • bdvv says:

        Bynum? Really? You’ve got to be joking, right?

        Bynum hasn’t played a single minute yet this season. And those knees of his are more rickety than my 89-year-old grandfather’s. He’s had moments of greatness but nothing substantiated for any extended amount of time. He’s even more immature than D12 (not that D12 is very mature either). Any real Laker fan should know that.

        Get a clue!

  33. joey boy says:

    LAKERS should trade HOWARD & JAMISON for CHANDLER & AMARE…
    then LAKERS can sign GILBERT ARENAS & DREW GOODEN…
    the LAKERS needs veteran players…..

    • chandler says:

      you’re on crack

    • joseph says:

      Dude, you are so stupid…. why will they do that? That will put that way over the salary cap, resulting in a severe fine from the NBA. Read the frickin news before saying such ignorant b.s

    • K jo says:

      Laker’s fans complain about their team’s D and now you think Amare is going to fix your problems? New York isn’t going to give up Chandler for sure and why would anyony who also complains about effort want Arenas…

      • javier says:

        ok who in the world would trade howard… he is 1 or the number 1 deffensive player in the nba jamison i would’t ether but if they can trade metta world peace for some 1 better like beasley then they should..

    • Jack says:

      Howard & Jameson for Chandler & Amar’e?

      You’ve read that yourself?

      Seriously?

      Right now both Howard & Jameson aren’t worth Chandler by himself.

    • bdvv says:

      The Lakers need veteran players?! Aren’t they already one of the oldest teams in the league? Yes.

      What the Lakers really need is a knock-down 3-point shooter (such as Kyle Korver or Ryan Anderson) to help spread the floor and give Dwight and Pau (when he comes back) more room to operate in the paint.

      I’m so sick of reading the comments that are made by stupid, ignorant people who have no idea what they’re talking about, especially with incorrect grammar and spelling mistakes. Do you realize how stupid some of you sound in your comments? Learn how to effectively communicate, people!

  34. rondo says:

    I don’t like any of Jeff Caplan’s articles. Their so boring.