Speaking with Dave McMenamin of ESPN Los Angeles, the three-time Defensive Player of the Year offered his take on his team's problems and made it seem like getting back on track was easy.
Howard said that in order for the Lakers to start winning and contending, the "negativity" would have to end:
Negativity just got to stop. I'm sick of hearing about it. I'm sick of hearing about all the negative stuff. It's a big problem. Negativity is just not good. We got to bring some positivity to this situation, to everybody.I'm just talking about negativity in general. That's like a dark cloud, and the more you feed into the negativity, the bigger it gets. So, we have to change that and we have to believe. For all the fans and everybody who support the Lakers, believe. Yes, we're struggling. Yes, it's not the best time to be a Laker fan or a Laker player, but we will get out of it. There's a rainbow on the other end. We just got to make sure we get to it. I don't know if we got to eat some more Skittles or whatever it may be, but we got to find a way.
To a certain degree, Howard is right. The Lakers had a busy offseason, acquiring both him and two-time MVP Steve Nash, and they were labeled as early championship contenders. Instead, they are 18-25 and four games out of the final playoff spot in the tough Western Conference.
As Howard referenced, there has certainly been a great deal of negativity this season. From Mike Brown's failed Princeton offense to Pau Gasol not being comfortable in Mike D'Antoni's run-and-gun game and Kobe Bryant subsequently calling his teammate out, it has been a pretty dismal year in Lakersville. Steve Nash missing two months with a leg injury is just the icing on the cake.
However, if Howard thinks that just throwing the past away and putting on a happy face is going to fix the team's problems, he's been eating too many Skittles. Though the Lakers did look like a strong, cohesive unit against the Utah Jazz on January 25, the team must do more than be positive if it is to dig itself out of its current hole.
The fact is that this is a team that should be at or near the top of the Western Conference right now, but instead the Lakers are fighting for the final playoff spot thanks to shoddy work on the defensive side. Like most D'Antoni-coached teams, the Lakers are weak on defense, ranking 26th in points allowed compared to sixth in points scored.
Yes, staying positive will certainly help the team going forward, but there is still much work that needs to be done.
Better defense needs to be played, and players besides Kobe Bryant and Steve Nash need to start buying into D'Antoni's offense, no matter how foreign a concept it is to them. Everyone must have confidence and not look to Bryant to be the savior from the start. And the Lakers must actually seek to play the game as a team instead of being a one-trick pony.
Howard's remarks, though true, are just the tip of the iceberg. The Lakers do need to take them to heart, but they still have a lot of harder work to do if they are to get over the hump and make a statement in the playoffs.
It all comes down to pure execution. In order for the Lakers to be positive in the long term, they need to consistently put in the same effort that they did against the Jazz and accept their roles in D'Antoni's specific system.
Thinking positively certainly can help the team going forward, but thinking does not win games. Everyone has to do his job. Howard has talked the talk, and it's now time for his teammates to start walking the walk, positive attitude and all.