I assume the NBA doesn’t keep track of such statistics, but here’s one significant piece of NBA history in which Dwight Howard can take pride: He’s managed to wreck two teams in one season.
The Orlando Magic are the lowly slugs of the NBA universe, playing with a bunch of guys who recently graduated from pre-school. It’s all part of a major rebuild, thanks to Mr. Howard’s “loyalty” before bolting from Orlando.
And the Los Angeles Lakers - a team considered championship-ready when Howard arrived there this season - are scrambling to sneak into the playoffs as the eighth seed in the West, which will allow them the honor of getting hammered by San Antonio in the first round.
Bravo, my friend. Well played.
As he prepares for what will be anything but a triumphant return to Orlando Tuesday night, Howard - even with his 21 rebounds and 16 points in Sunday’s home victory against Chicago - remains one of the most enigmatic athletes on the planet.
He is an extremely gifted player who obviously is ill-suited for the demands placed upon the Chosen Ones.
There’s been a slew of NBA players who figured it out and rose to greatness - Larry Bird, Magic Johnson, Michael Jordan, Tim Duncan, Kobe Bryant and now LeBron James.
But Howard has the emotional disposition of a 3-year-old. It reminds me of a daughter of a friend who, whenever anything bad happens, looks at you befuddled and says, “It was an accident.”
But at 27, Howard - remarkably so - has yet to grow up, much less accept any personal responsibility for any dustups that have flared up in Orlando and Los Angeles. The list is long and there’s no need to regurgitate everything - from stabbing former coach Stan Van Gundy in the back, blowing off kids at his camp in Orlando, his back-and-forth bickering with Bryant and the occasional air of indifference in the way he plays.
Bad stuff happens around Howard. But it’s all an “accident.”
He wants people to suck up to him and to adore him forever but finds no need to hold himself accountable when something goes haywire.
With all the millions he makes, Howard should invest in a mirror, take a good look at himself, and acknowledge. “Hey, maybe the problem is me.”
A former colleague may be onto something about Howard. He believes that Howard has Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD). It manifests itself as being “excessively preoccupied with issues of personal adequacy, power, prestige and vanity.”
At the risk of overplaying the pop-psychology card, this looks to be spot-on.
Howard appears obsessed with public perception. That’s probably why he kept going back and forth during his final Season of Indecision with the Magic. He truly couldn’t make up his mind because that would make some people despise him.
And now the same conversation is brewing on whether Dwight will leave the Lakers after this season, even though they would be able to play him more money than any other team. The dynamic with the Lakers is different than the one Howard experienced in Orlando. Here, he was the Man. In Los Angeles, he is the Sidekick, Robin to Kobe’s Batman.
But Mr. NPD doesn’t see it that way. He wants to be the Alpha Dog, even though he often acts like a barky Chihuahua. It’s somewhat comical that Howard said over the weekend that he is going to rededicate himself for the second half of the season. Do you believe him? Or is it just more “Please like me!” blah-blah-blah?
If he decides to stay in L.A., Howard will need to take a subordinate role to Bryant. It’s Kobe’s posse of purple and gold as long as he’s in town. Consider this snippet a few months back when Kobe was asked whether the Lakers could make the adjustment they need to break out of their slumber.
“I’ll kick everybody’s (behind) in this locker room if that doesn’t happen,” he said.
Kobe is a warrior who will have your back. Dwight is a whiner who will stab it.
You decide which guy you’d want on your basketball team.