The NBA is just past the All-Star break, and as the playoff picture begins to become more clear, there is no doubt that Dwight Howard made the right decision to leave the Los Angeles Lakers for the Houston Rockets. I mean, who could blame him? Look at the standings: The Rockets currently sit at the No. 3 spot in the Western Conference, while the Lakers look like they will land themselves in the lottery come summer time with an abysmal record of 18-35, tied for fourth worst in the league.
Howard’s choice to leave Los Angeles, although surrounded with unnecessary drama, was without a doubt the right decision for him. It gave him a chance for a fresh start with a young, talented team that showed promise last year. Howard is having one of his better seasons of his career, averaging 18.8 PPG to go along with 12.5 RPG and 1.8 BLKPG. He is putting critics to rest who said that he and James Harden would not mesh well together due to both of their “super star” statuses and demand to lead the team.
Tonight, Howard makes his first appearance back at the Staples Center since his decision to leave the Lakers last summer, and it shouldn’t be that big of a deal. Even to Lakers fans.
First off, Howard only spent one year with the Lakers organization. Lakers fans weren’t able to establish nearly as strong as an emotional connection to him as Orlando Magic fans were able to over the course of his eight years with them. His departure from Orlando got ugly, and after his first game back in Orlando as a member of the Lakers, a local radio station made a billboard with a countdown to, “‘Til Dwight leaves us again!”
Secondly, were very many Lakers fans surprised when Howard chose to leave L.A.? It was blatantly obvious that he and head coach Mike D’Antoni did not get along whatsoever. Not to mention, that he and Kobe Bryant had their differences as well. When Kobe tore his Achilles near the end of last season, on top of the struggles that Steve Nash faced with his own injuries, Howard knew that the 2013-14 season was going to be a rebuilding year, so no one should blame him for his departure. He wants to win a championship now, not in a few years.
Finally, what did he bring to the Lakers organization? He didn’t deliver a championship. He statistically had his worst scoring year since 2006, and he constantly brought drama to the organization with his displeasure with the coaching staff along with not getting the ball enough during games.
So, when Dwight Howard returns to the Staples Center tonight to take on the Lakers, expect boos, and plenty of them. But it shouldn’t be as big of a deal as fans will make it out to be. Howard wasn’t happy in Los Angeles, so he moved on. Lakers fans should too.