Does Dwight Howard Have What It Takes to Be a Champion?

Jonathan WassermanNBA Lead WriterJanuary 20, 2013

Jan 20, 2013; Toronto, ON, Canada; Los Angeles Lakers center Dwight Howard (12) reacts to a technical called against him against the Toronto Raptors at the Air Canada Centre. The Raptors beat the Lakers 108-103. Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports
Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports

After getting tossed from Sunday's matinee with the Toronto Raptors, his second ejection in two weeks, it's time to address the internal makeup of Lakers star Dwight Howard.

Whether Howard has what it takes to be a champion is unrelated to Sunday's incident, especially considering his second tech was undeserving, but it does make the question relevant.

While talent may pull the most weight when determining a champion, there's a common denominator amongst them that plays to their mental approach.

Think about recent champions like Tim Duncan, Kevin Garnett, Chauncey Billups, Dirk Nowitzki and even LeBron James and Dwyane Wade. These guys are all business. It's a black-tie league, and Howard is dressed in jeans and a V-neck.

Kobe Bryant has what it takes to be a champion. You'd like to think if you gave every player in the arena a sword and a shield, he'd find a way to emerge unscathed. I'm not so sure Howard has the same killer instinct to be the last man standing.

Howard is more of a funny guy, and unfortunately, humor doesn't translate to trophies in the NBA. Tim Duncan doesn't have a sense of humor. Garnett certainly isn't a comedian, and I'm pretty sure Kevin Durant isn't going to smile until he wins his first title.

Think about the bigger picture.

The CEO of the firm is usually a stone cold badass. He didn't get to the top by being likable. He got there by keeping his eye on the prize and not letting anything get in his way.

The big boss may not even be the smartest guy in the room. That could be the I.T. guy, but he isn't badass. He can't lead a company.

It's not an issue of effort. Some guys just weren't wired to shoulder a load through harsh conditions.

Howard lets adversity get to him on the floor. And with a championship run likely to require at least 100 games, you can bet your ass that obstacles will be waiting.

Howard's attitude affects his performance. He does a poor job of adjusting when a defense takes him away. He gets frustrated. He whines. He disappears. He forces shots. He misses free throws.

You don't have to be a leader to win championship. Every player on the team has a role. But Dwight Howard isn't a role player. His presence is overwhelming, and every move he makes affects Los Angeles. If he's not helping the Lakers, he's hurting them.

Champions are built with substance you can't find in stores. They're born with it. And while Dwight Howard was blessed with extraordinary physical gifts, he was spared the internal qualities of those who've hoisted the Larry O'Brien Trophy.