Dwight Howard has a tough battle on his hands and it has nothing to do with his rehab from back surgery or rediscovering his game after a long layoff.
Going into the 2012-13 NBA season, you'd be hard pressed to find a more disliked player than him. From the way he publicly and relentlessly demanded a trade from the Magic, to flip-flopping about opting in to his contract, to missing a basketball camp with kids in Orlando, Dwight has taught a master class in how to ruin an image. His fall from grace has been spectacular in its depth, trajectory and velocity.
But for Lakers' fans, all of that is water under the bridge.
While Lakers fans can be notoriously fickle and hard on players (if you don't believe me, visit the comment section of any Lakers site after a bad loss), they can also be fiercely loyal to their own. Especially, when outsiders are in full attack mode as they have been with Howard.
However, it's not just about Howard being a Laker that has their fans ready to forgive all former sins and back him up in any argument. It's that he's already given fans reasons to dole out their support and respect.
This isn't to say that Dwight won't earn the scorn of Lakers' fans at some point. But as of now, he's earned their respect.
Let's dive right into the reasons why.