Dear Dwight Howard,
I hope you enjoyed your time at Chavez Ravine last night. I hope you enjoyed the fans' reception, your luxury suite, the spinning salad at Lawry's on La Cienega and your ice cream at Sprinkles on South Santa Monica. And I hope your back gets better soon.
Finally, I hope you know that the city of Los Angeles will not tolerate you coming here to play for the Lakers and pulling that little "Should I stay or should I go?" charade this season. You have to earn the right to broadcast drama in this city; Shaq got a pass because he won three NBA Finals MVPs in a row. Kobe backed up his YouTube performance by winning two more. Heck, even Derek Fisher gets a standing ovation after defecting to the Thunder, of all teams, because LA doesn't forget 2000, 2001, 2002, 2009, 2010, and 0.4.
But you, for you to preemptively complain about Kobe, about playing in the shadows of giants, about building your own brand and your own legacy in a new city, about following in Shaq's footsteps—listen to how you get ahead of yourself.
Dwight, you are an excellent defensive center. There's no doubt about it. You are freakishly gifted and you change the way opponents play offense, and yet, you've never developed a consistent offensive game yourself. You're touted as being as mentally tough as the Pillsbury Doughboy and honestly, this whole offseason of your ceaseless whining about wanting to go to Brooklyn has gotten you nowhere from both a basketball and public relations standpoint.
Andrew Bynum, in spite of his immaturity and past misgivings, is already a more offensively skilled big man than perhaps you will ever be. His defense has room for improvement but he is an All-Star caliber big man, and at the tender age of 24 he has a significant amount of gas in the tank.
If he comes to LA, will Dwight Howard belong in the same sentence as Mikan, Wilt, Kareem and Shaq?
Dwight, what we need in Los Angeles is a winner. Not someone scared to carve out his own legacy in a franchise that, throughout history, has amassed a Mount Rushmore of big men. Not someone who's going to bristle at a perceived slight from a veteran with five more rings than you, and certainly not someone who thinks he's worth enough to complain ceaselessly and ponder aloud his next destination in free agency at the expense of the team.
Because, Dwight, if you come to our city and you think you're going to get away with the way you behaved in Orlando, you're in for a huge surprise. Unlike Orlando, our multi-billion dollar entertainment industry is unimpressed with your million-dollar smile. Unlike Orlando, we do not put our hopes and dreams on a Superman cape that only seems to appear in dunk contests and ESPN commercials. And unlike Orlando, we will not be desperately clamoring to mollify you for our championship run because if we don't win this year, we eventually will.
This is a franchise with 17 banners. It's a franchise in a city where big egos are expected, and sometimes clash; but be it entertainment, business or the Lakers, ultimately it's a city where nothing gets done unless egos are checked at the door. If you're not willing to come on board with that philosophy, please, don't come at all. The Lakers will eventually go on to win rings, with or without you. So please consider your words and choices carefully. This city has class, but it does not deal kindly with those who do without it.
A Wary Lakers Fan