Los Angeles is a city with a storied history of stars and spectacles, so when rumors were floated that the NBA’s "Superman," Dwight Howard, was interested in joining the Lakers squad, the city was bustling with the excitement of adding the league’s most powerful big man.
Although there’s been talk about Howard being involved in a trade for one of LA’s big men, possibly the young and rapidly developing Andrew Bynum, the rumor started gaining momentum last Wednesday when Tim Kawakami of the San Jose Mercury News reported that Dwight Howard had seriously narrowed his options down to the Lakers, Mavericks and Nets.
There’s not a single team in the league that wouldn’t benefit from acquiring Howard, who is a 6’11 giant with arms easily mistaken for lamp-posts.
There was not question that Bryant was enthusiastic about the idea of adding Howard to the Laker organization. However, he envisioned a different future from Howard.
Bryant told Howard that he wanted him to come to Los Angeles and help him win two more championships, but not as an understudy. He wanted Howard to be the team's third option behind himself and Pau Gasol, according to a source.
Well, let’s just say Kobe found Superman’s "kryptonite."
Unfortunately, rumors are rampant these days, but at the core of this issue, is the fact that Dwight Howard and Kobe Bryant will never work.
It’s not their playing styles that would pose a problem.
Kobe is a perimeter scorer who is in constant need of the ball, that’s why he’s putting up 25-30 shots a game. Whereas Howard uses his athleticism and powerful physique as more of a defensive presence, rather than as an offensive threat.
Instead, the real conflict here is with ego.
First, Dwight doesn’t want to go into LA looking for a fresh start and then be berated with Shaquille O’Neal comparisons. Howard is not interested in following in Shaq’s footsteps, but rather he wants to build his own legacy.
Also, Dwight recently said,
He wants to be the closer wherever he goes. He wants the ball when the game is on the line and we all know that is Kobe territory. And that ultimately is what it comes down to—Kobe is a living legend in LA, he’s got five rings with the Lakers, and he’s neither ready nor willing to give up his crown any time soon. Howard may want to be the franchise player, the go-to guy, and the face of the team, but that wouldn’t be possible if he’s playing second fiddle to Kobe.
Has Bryant’ stubbornness created a barrier to the Laker’s progress?
Or perhaps is his role in this Superman saga simply a means to another end?
It is legitimate to assume Kobe was worried Dwight Howard would steal his alpha-dog status. But then again, Kobe is the heart and soul of the Lakers.
He has a better pulse on the current state of the team than anybody else, which means he also knows what they need, and right now that is a point guard. Perhaps his role in passing on Dwight will lend to going after a big-time point guard like Deron Williams.
Lakers fans can only dream about that day.
Ultimately, the NBA trade deadline is officially one month away on March 15th, and the word is out that Dwight is currently leaning towards the New Jersey Nets.
But wherever he ends up, you can bet that Kobe will be the deciding factor in keeping Dwight Howard out of LA.
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