Dwight Howard to Lakers: Why Star Center Will Be a Hollywood Legend
Dwight Howard a Los Angeles Laker?
Tell me you didn't see this one coming.
The writing was on the wall for months, and the Orlando Magic's headache now appears to be Southern California's newest hero. Howard will follow in the legendary Shaquille O'Neal's footsteps, trading in his Disney fairy tale for what's sure to be a Hollywood thriller.
Talk about a change of scenery.
As it turns out, general manager Mitch Kupchak hit a second home run after all.
ESPN reports the deal is merely awaiting league approval:
A source with direct knowledge of the talks told ESPN.com's Marc Stein the Lakers will receive Howard, the Denver Nuggets will acquire Andre Iguodala, the 76ers will receive Andrew Bynum and Jason Richardson, and the Magic will get Arron Afflalo, Al Harrington, Nikola Vucevic and one protected future first-round pick from each of the other three teams.
After Orlando Magic general manager Rob Hennigan waited out a series of negotiations, including failed talks with the Brooklyn Nets, you'd expect nothing short of a win-win deal for all sides. And, that's exactly what they got.
But, for all the big names trading places, the truly blockbuster heart of this deal is quite obviously Howard's arrival in a promised land of Purple and Gold.
He has the all-world defensive ability to impact a team ranked just 15th last season in points allowed. He has the explosiveness to rip down any lob Steve Nash tosses his way, rivaling the other team in L.A. in the highlight reels while once again outpacing it in the standings.
Most importantly, he has the smile and charisma that were always destined for stardom. And yes, he has some mighty big shoes to fill.
Dwight Howard may never do the things that Shaquille O'Neal once did. He almost certainly won't average 30 points a game with the Lakers roster currently constructed as it is, and he may never secure MVP honors. He'll leave much of the offensive production in the capable hands of Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash and Pau Gasol.
That's just as well.
But Howard could also go down as one of the most outstanding defensive players to ever play the position, taking Bill Russell's iconic path to historic greatness.
Howard has already been named Defensive Player of the Year three times and proven himself as the league's most dominant rebounding presence along the way. There's a reason he goes by "Superman," and it's not a penchant for spandex.
The 6'11" high-flyer has the kind of freakish athleticism that even comparably talented centers couldn't imagine matching.
Though Howard's chances of capturing a title are pretty good, his odds of capturing the imagination and adoration of Los Angeles' star-struck masses are airtight.
Even Warren G likes it:
Dwight Howard is a LAKER Boooom— Warren G (@regulator) August 10, 2012
You can imagine how Jack Nicholson feels.
Though the Lakers' chances of winning a championship now may not be significantly better than they were 24 hours ago, the franchise's status as the biggest/only game in town has taken a huge step forward.
Howard epitomizes the kind of larger-than-life persona that's always set this club apart. He's the missing piece to a puzzle that has only marginally to do with on-court success. This team wasn't just missing Shaq's dominance inside the paint—it was missing his personality.
Watching the Lakers just wasn't the same anymore, even when a championship was at the end of the tunnel. It was missing the care-free, fun-loving alternative to Kobe's hard-edged competitiveness.
The good times are back again, Los Angeles.
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