Dwight Howard's Tarnished Image Is Wilting in Midst of LA Lakers Nightmare

Jesse DorseyFeatured ColumnistJanuary 23, 2013

LOS ANGELES, CA - JANUARY 15:  Dwight Howard #12 of the Los Angeles Lakers returns to the court during a 104-88 win over the Milwaukee Bucks at Staples Center on January 15, 2013 in Los Angeles, California.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
Harry How/Getty Images

Ever since the start of the 2011 season, Dwight Howard has been on a warpath against his public relations manager, and things are continuing down a negative path in Los Angeles.

On the surface, there are very basic thoughts working against him.

Obviously, the majority of the NBA fans have a reason to dislike him based on the saga that he put them through.

It all started with him requesting a trade as the team fell apart around him, then signing his player option to stay in Orlando for another year, and then the NBA selling a shirt with his likeness across the chest along with the word "Loyalty."

Moving into the summer, speculation continued to bounce around about him wanting a trade to Brooklyn, regardless of the fact that he was under contract for another season and Brooklyn was in the midst of moving on.

Finally, mercilessly, Howard was traded to the Lakers and it was pretty much assumed that any kind of controversy surrounding him was done, at least on this scale.

In the process, Howard had alienated half the league, completely turned fan bases in Orlando and Brooklyn against him, and made everyone who has any interest in basketball tired of hearing his name thrown around.

Whatever, it's done. He's still got the fans in Los Angeles, one of the largest fan bases in all of sports. All he needed was for the Lakers to have a moderately good season this year and he'd be fine.

And here we are.

It's easy to forget, but the fans in Los Angeles can be a fickle bunch when their team starts to lose. It isn't something they're used to.

So with the Lakers failing to even tread water at 17-24, every single lapse is going to be magnified, and it has been.

The biggest problem has been that Los Angeles' defense is so poor that it's easy to point fingers at Dwight—as they should be—with him looking to be the anchor of this defense.

The effort is not there, he's constantly making stupid mistakes on the floor, and there's some sort of nonchalant shoulder shrugging about his game that's further upsetting Los Angeles fans.

Worst of all, Howard has gone as far as to mock Kobe Bryant behind his back regarding his shooting woes over the course of his past few games.

You can't do that and expect Lakers fans to laugh along with you.

He hasn't just crossed the line, he's drop-stepped all over it and been called for lowering his shoulder into the defender in the process.

For the past year, Dwight Howard has had no idea how to conduct himself in the face of the public, and his already dented and dinged public image is starting to take an even bigger hit.

Fans are turning on him, he's playing with lackluster effort, the Lakers continue to lose, and he's even turning on Kobe a bit.

There's four strikes against him in a town that doesn't even like to give their guys two strikes.