Whether it was Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Wilt Chamberlain or the mighty Shaquille O’Neal, the Lakers have always been a force in the paint.
This season is no different.
Once the Lakers lost in the 2012 Western Conference Semifinals, the Lakers decided to part ways with Andrew Bynum, his injury concerns and constant immaturity. After weeks and weeks of rumors surrounding possible trades, GM Mitch Kupchak constructed what will eventually go down as one of the greatest trades in Lakers history.
Deemed by many as the best center in basketball, Dwight Howard will call Staples Center home this season, and the fans, the team, and the city of Los Angeles have already begun to give him the superstar welcome all sports stars are accustomed to in LA.
However, keeping the three-time NBA Defensive Player of the Year happy will be key to the Lakers' success this year.
Here are the three ways the Lakers will embrace Howard in order to ensure he always plays at his highest potential.
Los Angeles sports fans have always been blessed by some of the best talent in the world. From Magic Johnson and Wayne Gretzky to Matt Kemp and Albert Pujols, LA always seems to find the top athletes in their respective sports.
Well, for a few reasons:
1. Los Angeles has some of the best fans in the world. Sports fans living in LA are dedicated to their teams through the best of times and the worst of times and will defend their players to death.
2. All athletes are given instant celebrity status. They get commercials, constant appearances on talk-shows and a ton of publicity.
3. Los Angeles owners generally have the money to buy the best players and offer them the lifestyle they want.
4. The City of Angels doesn’t bear the same kind of pressure that athletes in big cities such as New York or Boston face. In the laid back environment that is LA, players can feel much more relaxed that fans won’t jump on their every mistake so early.
Dwight hasn't hidden from the limelight thus far, in fact he has embraced his new status.
His smile and fun personality make him a great subject for the media and for the fans who get to interact with him.
On October 4th, the Lakers and Dwight Howard faced their first true test together.
Following comments made by former Laker and current NBA analyst Shaquille O’Neal regarding Dwight Howard as flashy and not on the same level as Andrew Bynum or Brook Lopez, the NBA world turned to the Lakers to see how they would react in defense of their newly acquired center.
To the surprise of many, Kobe was quick to speak on behalf of Dwight:
"Shaq has three Finals MVPs and a myriad of championships, but Dwight does have three defensive player of the year awards, something that Shaq was never able to accomplish," said Bryant. "So I think there's a lot to be said for Dwight and for where he's at so early in his career."
With the support of Kobe comes the unequivocal support of the entire Lakers roster.
Now that Dwight knows Bryant and the rest of the team have his back, the unit can begin to build the unbreakable chemistry that will eventually carry the Lake Show straight into the NBA Championship.
Kobe realizes that his run with the Lakers cannot last forever and knows that Howard is the future of the franchise should he choose to stay. His last shot at another championship lies in the hands of Dwight, and Kobe will do whatever it takes to fully embrace him.
Dwight Howard is not guaranteed to be a Laker following the 2012-2013 season as he will be a free agent.
Howard will most likely reject any long-term offer the Lakers throw on his plate during the season in order to test the waters of free agency.
Regardless, the Lakers are still going to offer him their max deal. Thanks to the new collective bargaining agreement, because Dwight Howard will play this season in a Lakers uniform, Los Angeles can make a more enticing offer of five years worth $109,229,064 million. The best any other team can offer will be only a four-year deal worth $81,114,453 million, according to ESPN’s Larry Coon.
The Lakers always find a way to win games, and in signing with the Lakers, Dwight can be confident that the front office will always put good players around him to help him succeed, as the Lakers have never been afraid to spend money.
And who knows, Dwight might love LA so much that by the time it comes to sign a deal, he won’t want to leave.
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