It’s Up To Dwight Now To Get Serious

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HANG TIME SOUTHWEST –
Dwight Howard didn’t re-sign with the Lakers, never embraced the challenge of that franchise’s great legacy as I envisioned he would.

Now I wait with the rest of the basketball world, and especially the victorious Houston Rockets, not without reservation, to see if the big man with the biggest, most scrutinized smile in NBA history comes through on the second part of my prediction — that he wipes that smile off his face and shuts down the clown act.

The circus has pulled up stakes and left town forever. If Howard thinks by signing with the Houston Rockets he outran the heat of the spotlight, that it’s safe to resume his jokester ways, then he’ll simply add another sequel to the overdone Dwightmare series. Now, 27, the boyish Howard, playful and goofy (and, yes, even endearing to many not named Kobe) must grow into a man befitting his chiseled 6-foot-11 frame, seize the responsibility he too often shunned in Orlando and in L.A., and lead this young, promising Rockets team.

He will be expected to deliver nothing short of a championship in the seasons ahead, just like LeBron James when he left Cleveland for South Beach, just like Carmelo Anthony after he forced his way out of Denver to get to his hometown New York Knicks.

Howard got what he wanted. He completed his L.A. fadeaway and chose his own path on Friday afternoon. He couldn’t control the personnel with which the Orlando Magic front office surrounded him. He couldn’t control where the Magic would trade him — even though the Lakers were one of his three listed favored franchises. And once in L.A. he couldn’t control the strange and unpredictable circumstances or the hammers of criticism continually swung by ex-Laker greats Magic Johnson and Shaquille O’Neal.

In free agency, Howard controlled all, allowing the Rockets, Hawks, Mavericks, Warriors and Lakers to practically beg him to play for them. The proud Lakers were left to grovel. Howard made his pick, choosing Houston and the young, emerging star in James Harden, who won’t swallow him whole the way a biting, often overbearing Kobe Bryant did. He has a low-post master as his coach in Kevin McHale, who will tailor last season’s 3-ball offense to maximize its new back-to-the-basket star. No longer will Howard scratch his head at Mike D’Antoni‘s insistence to play away from his greatest strength as an offensive force.

And Howard also now has the gentle Hakeem Olajuwon in his corner rather than the the oversized shadow of Shaq, who giddily ribs the sensitive Howard as he pleases.

So, yes, there’s plenty to smile about for the seven-time All-Star and three-time Defensive Player of the Year. And, look, there’s nothing wrong with smiling. We fell in love with Magic’s smile and his overflowing joy playing the game. We appreciate athletes who have fun, who revel in their sport. But the greats understand time and place and professionalism. The goofballs rarely catch on, almost never succeed.

From here on out Howard must be all business for him to ever be taken seriously, for his team to contend, for his legacy to get up off the ground and dust itself off.

The second part of my prediction was that Howard would get all this. I allowed for his early return from back surgery, the torn labrum in his shoulder, Steve Nash‘s broken leg in the second game of the season, Mike Brown‘s dismissal after five games and D’Antoni’s stubbornness to be excuses for the awful season that Dwight, almost comically, described after the San Antonio sweep as a “nightmare.”

I believed that once his back returns to full strength, once this ongoing free-agency circus finally folds that Howard will be free of unwanted distractions. No more difficult decisions to make, no more guilt for whichever decision he would make. With only basketball again as his focus, I believed Howard will again become the dominant two-way force we remember, circa 2009 in Orlando, before this mess started spinning like an F-5 tornado.

I’ll have to see it to believe it.

It’s all on Mr. Howard. He has the talent to be great. He must prove he has the fortitude. He can join LeBron and Kevin Durant as the game’s biggest stars and lead his team to championship contention on a yearly basis.

Or he can smile his way through $88 million of the Rockets’ money, and provide his buddy Shaq with a lifetime of ammunition.

72 Comments

  1. Murda says:

    Dewight that was not the best move for you..don’t no nba player wants the ring more than the lakers and 5x nba champion kobe bryant… the 2014 summer would gave you more stars in fire power…. and I’m a cavalier but I now a championship time when I see one… but good look and I hope you see this comment cause you always been my favorite star…but you turned yo back on a guaranteed ring big bra

    • justin bahlawan says:

      how was staying with the Lakers a guaranteed ring. STOP!! obviously hw doesnt like anyone in l.A. And i mean players coaches fans and all dantoni doesnt know what hes doing with dwight. The Lakers won’t be contenders for the rest of eternity just because there name is the Lakers. They won’t be good again for a while and Lakers fans need to just accept it Kobe is only playing two more years at the most hes not ageless

      • justin bahlawan says:

        I know laker fans r used to winning but Kobe won’t be there too much longer. Better get used to losing :)

  2. Arnel says:

    BBall Please.. Houston will smashed MIAMI. you are dreaming. not even close. beat the OKC first then maybe you might have a chance of beating MIAMI. and i said MIGHT

  3. marty says:

    What??? So if DH stayed with LA would u have the same opinion?? Would have been foolish to re up with a team with a selfish superstar in decline..Naysayers need to look up the meaning of FREE AGENT!!!That man did what was best for him who cares what past Lakers think…

  4. Darryl Ramey says:

    If you guys remember, Shaq was one of the biggest clowns in the league, up until game time. When the game started, Shaq was all business. If you pay attention Lebron is a different guy today than when he was with Cleveland. He don’t smile as much between the lines anymore. Have fun, great. Your a multi-millionaire and your job is doing something that you love and millions of people do for fun and for free, but be ready come game time. I told friends of mine the year Orlando played LA in the finals that LA was going to win because Dwight wasn’t ready. It’s still a joke to him. Until he starts ripping some heads off, he won’t be ready. So good luck D12, you could have made a great legacy in LA.

    Oh, and remember one thing all you haters. We are talking about the Lakers, they may struggle from time to time while rebuilding, but we will rebuild and we will put together a championship team. LA will get over the loss of one player, no question. I’d be willing to bet that LA wins another title before Dwight Howard does.

    Purple and Gold baby.

  5. B Radd says:

    I can’t help but wonder why people are always so negative and are such a Debbie Downer. Be happy guys that next season just got more interesting with Howard in Houston. We get to see him at his best. Probably even better than he was in Orlando together with Houston’s young core. I wish they would’ve kept Delfino but I really want them to try and pick up Brandan Wright, Anthony Morrow and Dahntay Jones.

  6. celentano says:

    Everything is in the hands to Buss&Mitch, i hope they create wise decisions adding some decent center,bench for LA! Bynum,Odom that’s almost the old core back ! Get also Fisher back! Should be the right way to end Kobe’s,odom & Fisher career. another chance makes the older Champ’s back re-united a last ride!Check Ariza again that only you have a stronger bench.
    Gasol,Meeks,Nash,Ariza,Fisher,Hill,sacre,Jamison,Kobe,Odom,Bynum & some others(maybe Sacha?) look’s a nasty team to me,play off contenders no doubt!!!

  7. Larian1983 says:

    This article seriously just said that Dwight Howard is a back-to-the-basket low post star, and that’s his strength?

  8. M1978 says:

    This is a happy situation for LA and a risky one to Houston. I think Howard is immature and inconsistent. This way the Lakers will have to find some good new players but at least they will have some money to do that.
    Maybe Howard will be better in Houston because he will be “the star” of the team. This takes pressure off him, pressure he failed to handle in LA.
    I think this turn of the events is fortunate to LA too. Howards suffering last season was really boring, now they need new, young players. If they start to bulid up a team now they could reach the top again in a couple of years. This would be a happy farewell to Kobe.

  9. spawn says:

    Bitter LA fans… we dont need D12… aww get real… you DO need him believe it or not.

  10. New Guy says:

    The Spurs or Thunder will go to the Finals, the Rockets have a good line up but going to the finals, I don’t see that happening. Rockets won’t go. Spurs or Thunder will be in the finals for the West.

  11. dave says:

    How badly does Dwight want to be a champion. How much is he willing to sacrifice. Is he willing to do all those little and big things – staying focused consistently, being critical of himself and working on himself, day-in-day out work, giving up small pleasures for the greater reward. Not just having ‘fun’ playing, but taking on the burden of trying to live up to his potential, and letting go of the fear of failure.

    I really wonder if he can find that fire and drive

  12. BBall says:

    Superman to Houston with Harden.Their definitely going to win next season.Heat are going to get smashed

  13. OctoPPus says:

    OUTCOME MATTERS ! – Dwight must be seen first playing w Rockets , only after someone can tell will the get far ??

  14. celentano says:

    Well anybody talking about Lakers this Lakers that… over for them… Kobe is weak,tralala nonsense guess what?The Lakers are in a new rebuilding mode,they have new plans… big plans comming, aiming at season 2014. Everybody knows it’s gonna be bum season again with barely new roster for the Lakers, at season 2014. It’s gonna be made major shifts, contracts ending from former stars>>>>>>Kobe,Gasol,Nash a lot trading new picks also + … . new rumours posted in the “Gazzetta dello sport” (biggest Italian sportsnewspaper) ; The Lakers are aiming at Lechump or James!!!Newsflash!And that’s no joke they mean it, a new dawn is comming for LA! D’ont write the Lakers away because championship comming back to LA in the nearly future!
    Ciao ciao amigos!

  15. D-Luver says:

    I predicted a couple months ago that D12 would be a Rocket.. I was all in favor of this move. I thought then [and still believe now] that this is the perfect move for him. NOW, having said that…

    If ANYBODY thinks that the Rockets are going to make it to the finals next year…. you are dreaming! WAKE UP! This team is not battle tested. They are too young. And it won’t help having a CLOWN, JACK-IN-THE-BOX leading you.

    YES, i am referring to Dwight Howard. He needs to grow up. NOW! … But, I predict he won’t. Unfortunately, it’s going to take several more years for him to “GET IT.” Maybe by the year 2016-17 he will have his focus, commitment and seriousness together… MAYBE! And IF… IF… IF… he’s still with Houston, he may bring them a title then. But that’s a very big IF!

    I’m not an L.A. fan. And I’m surely not a Rockets fan. I’m just a former high school and college baller who has a deep love for the game. I respect and love to watch TEAMS and PLAYERS who rep the game the RIGHT WAY!

    FINALLY… I do predict the Heat will pick up a true CENTER and they will 3-peat next year! You heard it here first!

  16. kris says:

    I love how all LA fans are sticking it to Howard yet if he had signed with them they would be praising him.He made a choice and that is all it can be.Even with his injury he managed to post good figures overall and right now he has rested his shoulders very well and you think he will not perform.Dream on because the Rockets got a good deal.If you have been following Howard from 2004 when he got drafted you will know that he did not play at his best with the Lakers.

  17. ELMEN ORTIZ says:

    It’s funny when people say the Lakers are done. Really? Are the Lakers supposed to win a championship every year? The Lakers have been to the NBA Finals 7 out of the last 13 years!! That means more than half the time the Lakers were Western Conference Champions. And why should Kobe retire? He makes millions of dollars doing what he loves (I wish I had that) + he has a chance to get some scoring titles. I remember the Lakers being kicked out of the first round against Phoenix in 07 and the very next year they are in the Finals against Boston. So all I am saying is the Lakers will always have a shot. I think the biggest problem is Steve Blake. Get Jordan Farmar back

    • justin bahlawan says:

      if u honestly think the Lakers will even make the playoffs this year. Not have a shot at the title but even make the playoffs, u have a whole nother thing coming my friend. Just cuz they were in the ship 7 outta the last 13 doesn’t mean they will always be title contenders

  18. J says:

    its not howards team its not hardens team its harden and howards team
    who cares if he smiles
    the rockets will be great
    howard will be dominant

  19. dylan19 says:

    Sorry to Howard or Houston fans…He will not bring a trophy to Houston. Just like what Charles Barkley said, until now Howard still don’t know how to play post up in the low post. Hope Kevin McHale or Olajuwon will be able to to some “Magic”…LOL

  20. the dream says:

    coached by a low post master and mentored by a hall of fame centre look out for 25-30 ppg 12+ rpg and 3 bpg another defensive trophy and mvp contender. The rockets won’t make the same mistake as the lakers they will base there offense around Howard and try use all his weapons to his advantage.

  21. boulghitttt4 says:

    I like dwight howard skills but i want to see him become a better offense threat, and every summer i tell myself that this guy is a professional so maybe he will work post-moves, shakes, jumpers, ft, small center crossovers, allll day long.
    You know, like the kids in holydays.Tthey watch videos of the best, and go try to reproduce that with pleasure on the court, and they get better. they add moves.
    But no, every year, i see a d12 limited, nothing new, the same offensive cliché robotic moves. I don’t know, he just needs a little more technical skills and he doesn’t update it, he stays with a weakness that could be easily sweeped. wtf are you doing dwight ? be the “certainly almost maybe” better big man of the game is not a problem for you ?
    you don’t remember how to progress alone ? you need a disneyland super staff to do that ?
    take your laptop, go to nba.com, whatch tim duncan, olajuwon games, whatch the feets of the great Centers, the angles, watch the bloody moves, memorize 2 or 3, then take a ball, and reproduce. during hours, every days. untill that thing be there in your game,
    do that, think you have 16 year old, you are poor. the rain starts to fall because you are not in a 200M$ arena. back to the roots, you are not the diva they say you are, right ?

  22. da game in phil! says:

    just watch the game, it’s their life, their career and that’s been made for them! :)

  23. boulghitttt4 says:

    ***He will be expected to deliver nothing short of a championship in the seasons ahead, just like LeBron James when he left Cleveland for South Beach, just like Carmelo Anthony after he forced his way out of Denver to get to his hometown New York Knicks.***

    —–> hmmm sorry ? where do/did you see that carmelo anthony is close to deliver something looking like a nba title ? are you joking ? lol, you bring that impostor name to sell jerseys to kids, but it’s a shame to put him in the same talk as lebron james, kevin durant, or any top players of that league. shame

  24. Tyler says:

    Daryl Morey is already the champ of the offseason. It would be interesting to see how he mans PF, a known weakness of the Rockets for seasons. This will ultimately decides how far they can go.

    • justin bahlawan says:

      They have the pf position on lock mo one knows but Terrence Jones is going to be very very very good this year!!

  25. Saeed says:

    This Rockets will be very great and will contest OKC on the Eastern Conference Finals. I will be happy to see them play against the Heat in next year’s Finals

    • Robin says:

      never underestimate the spurs….they might ( and i say they might ) get back to the finals, who knows….

    • justin bahlawan says:

      U mean the western conference finals and they will be playing the warriors not okc

  26. Keko123 says:

    When you think about all the bad circumstances last season, D’antoni as coach, bad lockerroom chemistry, Kobe can’t play with a true pg, lots of injuries and all the criticism by almost anyone who had his own opinion, i think Howard wasn’t that badly after returning from a serious injury
    Houston is a good fit for him and i think he will be the dominant big, he was a few seasons ago
    so for the Laker organization it will be a hard time next season…good luck

  27. Felix says:

    Dwight is garbage. Bynum is better than him

  28. danito says:

    wow lakers are done, kobe should retire, there is nothing more to play for, howard is gone, nash is old , gasol is not the same. kobe left all alone and that team cant even win 20 games next season.

    • Jack The Reaper says:

      Kobe will just go for the scoring record, he is the only one in track to be the all time leading scorer. He won’t probably win another ring though.

    • GamesmasterKush says:

      Exactly! I don’t get the point of supporting L.A.

  29. Barklay says:

    I think D12 will get at least four… but 4 sweeps in first or second round he will not get more than that

  30. coolitdude says:

    Chauncey Billups can be a decent backup PG for the rockets since he is still available! With all the experience and a championship ring, he can prove a good mentor for the whole team. Go get Chancey!!!

  31. LA-Supporer@Manila says:

    Actually, we really are hurt but it is for the best of everyone.. Maybe what he did will backfire on him..Just beware on LA.. LA is LA.. Lebron will be free next year.. Maybe we can get back Andrew.. Maybe he is mature right now..

    • GamesmasterKush says:

      LeBron is never gonna come to L.A. not in your biggest dreams. 4 years with the Heat. Year 1: Playoffs Year 2: Finals but lost. Year 3: Larry O’ Brien Trophy. Year 4: Larry O’ Brien Trophy. Na, LeBron’s best in Miami and every Heat fan (including me) agrees.

      • get ur faqs right says:

        Yr 1: finals and lost,yrs 2 and 3 championships….i do agree that lebron isnt leaving mia

      • Tucker says:

        Only until Dwyane Wade’s knees turn him into an old man player. They lost in the finals the first year. The second year they almost lost to the Celtics. This year they almost lost to the Pacers and the Spurs. Wade isn’t getting any younger and if LeBron wants to keep winning rings he’ll have to leave Miami.

    • justin bahlawan says:

      Idk y people actually believe the stupidity that lebron will leave Miami sports center just needs stuff to talk about and they know that lebron is a free agent next year so they start talking nonsense. If anything y would he go to the trash Lakers if he can go to the cavs with unc drew and Anthony Bennett and Andrew Bynum now

  32. KP3 says:

    Best wishes to D12, hope to get his Ring.. To L.A. fan and D12 haters, “We dont need HIM,we dont need D12″ etc.. but why did Kobe,nash President of LA. and the rest of the stuff make a pitch to D12?Beg D12, How come your dont need him right awy after he chose HOU. BITTER Move L.A. Fan Boys!!

  33. Benjy Jean-Leys says:

    Chris Paul, Carmelo Anthony, Kevin Durant, and Dwight Howard!!! Can anyone guess what these players have in common? THEY WILL NEVER GET A CHAMPIONSHIP RING! Sorry but the truth hurts. Heat, Spurs, Nets, and Pacers have better chances

    • Matthew says:

      Nets?!?!?!? You think that team will get it together???? I’m sorry but I am not sold on them.

    • GamesmasterKush says:

      You crazy. All of them WILL get a ring. Don’t know about ‘Melo though.

  34. dante says:

    shaq s also a clown but when d game starts, he brought fearsome among his colleagues n means nusiness, get your act up d12, time to show who u really or ur really a clown in evry way

  35. FATKID says:

    cant win with Kobe and Gasol….Gonna win with Harden And Lin …..show me …dont tell me

    • Matthew says:

      Oh they’ll win but not a ring. Maybe year two when when Lin stops having dud games. The rest of the league has caught up though which is good. Lets see it all even out.

    • manie says:

      kobe has better talent than harden and lin but lets face it shaq, odom, all took less money and left kobe. even Andrew bynun left LA and gasol is only there because of money and his off court relationship with kobe. the common denominator in this bad marriages is kobe who refuses to be a facilitator at least for half of the game.

    • justin bahlawan says:

      Its not harden and lin its Harden and parsons

  36. kei says:

    For all the LA fan boys that were glad that D12′s gone. Stop lying to yourself. D12 was supposed to be your next francise player after Ko’me retired. You’all know he’s back from injury. I am expecting nothing but a great season for D12 and if he did even more, remember it’s LA fan boys and Kobe who killed the Lakers for the next ten years.

    I am enjoying how LA turns out for Ko’me and LA fan boys. Nothing against true LA fans though.

    • GamesmasterKush says:

      Agreed. Kobe wants all the attention for himself. He wants to be the center of attraction. D12 is way better without L.A. I think rockets is gonna be a great fit. L.A. never allowed D12 to be himself. Which prevented him playing up to his normal standards. Which is why L.A. is a terrible team and had an EXTREMEMLY poor season last year I am surprised they even made the playoffs. But all that’s gonna change. If Houston allows D12 to be D12 again.

  37. Bird33 says:

    Shaq”s been right….so far.

  38. celtics1 says:

    Dwight will never win a champtionship.

  39. Dwight is not gunna win a ring next season. He doesnt have it in him. But im glad he left the lakers. we dont need him

    • LeBRONATIC says:

      now D12 left Lakers and you will say Lakers don’t need D12 your d*** s***** as***** go home and and try to jump to 12 storey building….

    • MIGO says:

      Well First OBVIOUSLY they will not win a championship next season, theres chemistry to work on and the sets that are going to work, offseason is not enough time they need actual gameplay, and im no fan of the Lkares but if you are i wouldnt want you…..you always needs a good or at least decent center in the NBA although many changes have overcome the league you still win with defense and a center that is decent would help a lot let alone a player of DH caliber, that he is a child yes inmature yes cannot handle pressure yes BUT he is, when engaged, the best center in the league overall, and no im not a DH fan either i call it like i see it

  40. Chris says:

    Totally agree. The clowning during games always bugged me when he was with Orlando. You aren’t 100% focused on winning when you are doing that stuff, especially during a game. I think Houston was the right decision and really think they have lots of potential. I enjoy watching their style of play and I think they will be a great fit for Dwight. As much as the last 2 years of Dwightmare haven’t been fun, I also think Orlando should have traded him when he first asked to be traded. A whole lot of this mess would have been avoided.

  41. Amused says:

    Too bad Josh Smith didn’t join the Rockets….