It seems a crazy thought to use the word "maturity" in the same sentence as Los Angeles Lakers center Dwight Howard. This is the same guy who spent the better part of the past year demanding a trade, undemanding one, proclaiming his loyalty to the Orlando Magic, then demanding a trade again.
Apparently, Deron Williams is upset that Howard didn't demand a trade to the right team. Williams is mad that Howard didn't use his leverage more to swing a trade to the Brooklyn Nets, rather than the Lakers.
Howard could have waived his contract with the Magic this season, giving him the right to become a free agent and go wherever he pleased, potentially forcing a sign-and-trade to Brooklyn. Instead, he opted in. From there, things got nasty in Orlando, and the Nets were unable to put together a desirable package for Howard while the Lakers were.
There hasn't been anything coming from Williams as far as the public and media are concerned, but there has to be some sort of rift between the two players for Howard to come out and address it publicly.
Before L.A.'s game against Brooklyn Tuesday night, Howard came out and addressed the purported hard feelings on Williams' part:
It’s my life so if he’s upset because I made a decision for me, so be it. If he doesn’t want to be friends because I’m on another team, then so be it. There’s no need to smooth things over.
There's a three-fold breakdown of Howard's thoughts here. First, we have to accept that somebody obviously asked him how he felt about the entire situation. He answered the question. If he would have come out and started ranting on his own, this is a different story, but that doesn't seem to be the case.
Second, there's a hint of immaturity in his response. It sounds as if he's a bit slighted by Williams' being upset, but not to the point where he's going to go out and do something about it.
Finally, we have to look at this all in the context of Howard's general behavior over the course of the past year. He's come out and given a very straightforward response, and he seems to be moving on. There's no dwelling—it was a question addressed and then put away.
Howard went on to say he's happy playing with the Lakers and that there's no need to talk about why he demanded a trade to the Nets many times before being traded to the Lakers. Another sign that he's ready to move on forward.
It's not that Howard is actively becoming a more stable and amiable personality to the public, but his inner-thought process seems to be much more centered and deliberate about what he wants rather than the old wishy-washy self the league has become used to.
This has to be a good thing for the Lakers. It seems that those comments allow for the team to take them at face value, giving them a lot of reassurance that he'll be re-signing with the team at season's end. Plus, you could say they've got a guy who is slowly turning into more of an adult, which allows the organization to be optimistic about both his off-court actions and his progress as a player on the court.
At the very least, we can say that the actions of Howard are a bit more mature than Jim Buss and the Lakers ownership after pulling the rug out from under Phil Jackson's coaching return, so there's something that's definitely a positive for Los Angeles.
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