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Lakers Trade Rumors: Dwight Howard Can Only Repair His Image with a Title in LA

Adam Fromal@fromal09National NBA Featured ColumnistJuly 20, 2012

PHOENIX, AZ - MARCH 13:  Dwight Howard #12 of the Orlando Magic during the NBA game against the Phoenix Suns at US Airways Center on March 13, 2011 in Phoenix, Arizona. The Magic defeated the Suns 111-88. 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 Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

After all of the fussing, whining and flip-flopping that Dwight Howard has done over the past year, I wouldn't blame you at all if you thought that his image was irreparably ruined. 

However, he can still get back in good graces if he goes to the Los Angeles Lakers and wins a title in his first year there, thereby proving to everyone what a difference-maker he can be. 

This is a conditional image repair though, one that won't be completed if Howard sticks to his guns and follows Ric Bucher's report that he won't sign an extension with any team, preferring to test free agency in the summer of 2013. 

On top of that, it's only going to be a partial repair of the basketball world's perception of Howard. 

It's going to be ridiculously difficult for Howard to be loved—hell, even liked—by the majority of NBA fans again at this stage in his career. Going to Los Angeles and helping to form a superteam would only fuel the fire of the hatred, with the exception of Lakers Nation of course. 

However, winning a title and showing exactly why he's made out to be such a dominant center would at least earn Howard a bit of grudging respect. 

After all of this drama, that's about all Howard can hope to earn back. 

It doesn't matter how many ear-to-ear grins he flashes next season, how motivated he looks on the court or how well he handles himself with the media, Howard has wrecked his image this offseason with his constant backtracking and flip-flopping. 

As LeBron James showed when he won the title with the Miami Heat, a championship can validate a drawn-out decision, even if it was won with a group of fellow All-Stars.

The only rumored destination at which D12 could hope to win a title in year one would be in Los Angeles, playing at the Staples Center in a purple and gold uniform.

The Houston Rockets have too many young pieces and would have to blow up their current roster in order to land Howard. The Brooklyn Nets wouldn't be able to get him until the season was in progress, then they'd lack the chemistry and talent—even with Deron Williams, Joe Johnson and Gerald Wallace—to take down the Heat in the Eastern Conference.

If Howard wants to win and start the reparation process for his image, it's L.A. or bust.

Too bad he hasn't realized that yet.  

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