Dwight Howard Needs to Shut Up and Play Following Jameer Nelson's Remarks

Josh BenjaminCorrespondent IMarch 6, 2013

Jan. 30, 2013; Phoenix, AZ, USA: Los Angeles Lakers center Dwight Howard (12) against the Phoenix Suns at the US Airways Center. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Los Angeles Lakers center Dwight Howard recently told CBS Sports that the Orlando Magic teams he played on were comprised of players that nobody wanted and, not surprisingly, former teammate Jameer Nelson took offense.

Speaking to Brian Schmitz of the Orlando Sentinel, Nelson had some choice words for his former teammate, who was dealt to the Los Angeles Lakers in a blockbuster trade last August:

“At some point, when are you [Dwight] gonna as a man, when are you going to take ownership and stay out of the media in a professional manner?” Nelson told the Sentinel after Wednesday’s shooatround in Miami.

“I would be less of a man to comment on certain things that people comment on about me and my teammates. We had a great run as a group, as core guys, and he was a part of it (reaching the 2009 Finals) and for him to say things about anybody in a negative manner, that’s up to him.

“That’s his opinion. If that’s how he feels, that’s how he feels.”

Though Nelson's words may just be sour grapes—especially since the Magic are bound for the lottery thanks to the trade—it's hard to find fault with what he said. Dwight Howard and the Magic did have a good run and the last couple of seasons were haunted by the lack of a consistent supporting cast around Howard.

Just the same, there was no reason for Howard to take a shot at his old teammates. He got his wish and was traded, so it's time to leave it at that.

Howard needs to focus on something he has failed to do all season long: be a consistently dominant center for the Los Angeles Lakers. He has failed to find his groove in Mike D'Antoni's up-tempo offense, not quite adjusting to being a pick-and-roll big man over working the low post and being dominant above the rim.

This season, Howard has posted 15.9 points, 12.1 rebounds and 2.3 blocks per game. There are some nights when he'll be absolutely dominant and exactly what the Lakers need him to be, and others when he is just plain awful—at least on offense.

That all being said, as tempting as it may be to fire back at Nelson and start a war of words, Howard cannot allow himself to do that. His Lakers are two-and-a-half games behind the Utah Jazz for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference and his teammates need him to drop everything and play.

Los Angeles needs Howard to be fully focused and locked in in order to get closer to that goal of a playoff berth. That means finally burning the bridge between himself and Orlando for good.