The trading of Dwight Howard to the ever-charmed Los Angeles Lakers understandably made legions of NBA fans hang their heads, but it's Howard's arrival in Los Angeles that should fill basketball diehards with a sense of dread.
After all, this isn't just a storied franchise acquiring an elite player, but an attention-seeking star landing in the most accommodating city possible. The end of days is upon us, and all we can do is stock up on canned goods, retreat to our underground shelters and await the over-saturation to come.
This unique combination of player and city has the makings of an absolute nightmare for those who tend to focus on actual basketball rather than the resulting sideshow. Howard's schtick had already grown weary during his time in Orlando, and now a new market will inject his stale jokes and impersonations with a false sense of novelty.
There are unknowing outlets and cameras ripe for Howard's preening, and worse yet, a potential revival of the tired punditry that somehow connects the dots between Howard's playful personality and on-court performance.
Much of that was inevitable with Howard's return to a team of contending relevance and arrival in a new city, but the particulars of the L.A. market empower Howard in an unprecedented manner.
Shaquille O'Neal's time in Los Angeles came before the Internet media's full-scale boom. Kobe Bryant's approach to reporters has always been a bit guarded, and guided by an appropriate skepticism. Pau Gasol is far too thoughtful and easygoing to incite much extracurricular attention, and Andrew Bynum never quite seemed to understand how to work a microphone to his advantage.
The stage is set for Howard to smile and jest and bore us all as few have had the opportunity to do before, with the only possible saving grace being the fallout from his drawn-out trade saga. If audiences have indeed soured on Howard's act completely—an understandable outcome given his two-faced grin—then perhaps there's hope for all of our sanity yet. But if not, the Lakers are too glitzy a team and Howard too remarkable a talent for Los Angeles not to do what Los Angeles does.
The stage is set, and the spotlight trained to the steps of a tired dance. May the basketball gods save us all.