After acquiring guard Steve Nash and center Dwight Howard in the offseason, the Los Angeles Lakers were proclaimed the best team in the NBA. Some compared their team to an Olympic roster as their starting lineup featured four potential Hall of Famers in Nash, Howard, Pau Gasol and Kobe Bryant. The Lakers’ other starter, Metta World Peace, declared that the Lakers could potentially surpass the 72 win total of the 1995-96 Chicago Bulls.
Nevertheless, the 2012-13 Lakers, to the surprise of many, were a complete disaster. The Lakers went winless in the preseason and fired head coach Mike Brown after a 3-4 start to the regular season. Maybe the Lakers were right in firing Brown. He did foolishly employ the Princeton offense, which took the ball out of the hands of the play-making point guard Steve Nash. Maybe the Lakers pulled the trigger too soon on Brown, axing a reliable coach that stressed defense, unlike Mike D’Antoni, who the Lakers hired.
D’Antoni is famous for his ineptitude as a coach when it comes to defensive strategy. Therefore, it should be no surprise that the Lakers gave up a whopping 104 points per game.
The chemistry issues with the Lakers were glaringly obvious. Dwight Howard’s lackadaisical bravado did not mesh with the ultra-competitive Kobe Bryant. Nash and Bryant could never click on offense either, mainly because Nash and Bryant both need the ball in their hands to be successful.
Bryant is one of the greatest players in NBA history, but his game is flawed in one aspect as he cannot operate well on offense without the ball, like Paul Pierce, Blake Griffin, Tim Duncan, Dirk Nowitzki and other All-Stars are able to do effectively. Maybe then, Mike Brown was right after all with his Princeton offense. This style of offense does take the ball out of the point guard’s hand often, but that was probably the only way Nash and Bryant could mesh.
The Lakers were barely able to make the playoffs and many believe they would have missed the postseason if they had not received favorable calls from the officials game after game. Kobe Bryant needed to exert every cell in his body to put the Lakers in a position to make the playoffs. But on the 80th game of the season, Bryant tore his Achilles, ending his season and maybe even his career.
The injury should not have been a shocker, considering the 34-year-old guard was playing 45 minutes a night to compensate for the lack of stability on the Lakers offense. Still, many will admit that they do not completely feel bad for Bryant because had the Lakers not received ridiculous favoritism from the referees in order to win close games, the team would have been out of contention by the time of Bryant’s injury and he would have likely been shut down for the season if the team had been eliminated from postseason contention. Some will assert that it was karma that Bryant got injured as David Stern’s “golden-boy” finally suffered after spending his entire career getting calls from the officials he did not deserve, in part because he was on Stern’s Lakers, and in part because he was a superstar and Stern insists that superstars be pampered in this league.
Dwight Howard was the biggest disappointment of all. He could never keep his mouth shut during the season, often providing the media with idiotic and juicy quotes that could be used to defame the center. His worst moment came in Game 4 of the Lakers first round series against the San Antonio Spurs when he got ejected after receiving two technical fouls for arguing with the officials. Howard disgracefully let his injury-plagued team down by getting ejected.
Howard’s failures on the free-throw line were also pathetic. He shot a woeful 57.7 percent from the stripe, often proving to be costly as other teams used the strategy of “Hack-a-Howard.” Howard did not miss everything this year for the Lakers. He was spot on in describing their season after the team was swept by the Spurs.
“It’s like a nightmare, it’s like a bad dream and we couldn’t wake up out of it,” Howard said about the season, according to ESPN.
The season was truly a nightmare for the Lakers, but maybe that is what the franchise deserves for acquiring the halfhearted “Dwightmare” in the offseason.