The Los Angeles Lakers’ “Dwight-mare” of a basketball season ended both ignominiously and fittingly yesterday before a national television audience.
However, the Lakers’ season didn’t officially end until NBA fans witnessed one more crowning moment from petulant center Dwight Howard. The mercurial center exited the game in the third quarter following a second unnecessary technical foul.
The ridiculously athletic Howard proved once again that his immense physical skills pale in comparison to the evident mental and physical lapses in the unrestricted free agent’s overall game.
Howard displayed glaring deficiencies in his play that will certainly dilute his previously prognosticated top dollar worth as a marquee free agent signing. For any NBA exec coveting Howard in the off-season, I’d strongly implore them to recalculate the value of this once sought after prized free agent in terms of money they’ll spend and unwanted baggage they’ll receive.
In addition to demonstrating against the Spurs limited offensive skill in the post as a scorer or passer, Dwight Howard showed no leadership when his team needed it most.
Just observing Howard’s passive demeanor and, at times, pouting facial expressions during timeouts or stops in play should have sent out glaring caution signs to interested free agent suitors.
Not once did we witness Howard huddle his teammates together or openly demand more out of them, or better yet, himself. That’s one of the qualities flush NBA General Managers with plenty of salary cap space expect out of players they’re confident signing to nine digit long term deals. And, Howard clearly showed why he’s not one of them.
In addition to sloppy turnovers out of the post, Howard’s poor attitude once again took center stage. NBA fans will long remember Howard’s early exit from yesterday’s season finale for the Lakers.
After receiving a technical foul in the first half for an obvious elbow to the head of the Spurs’ Corey Joseph, Howard failed to discipline himself in the second half when his team needed his scoring and rebounding to avoid a series sweep. When questioning officials about the Spurs’ routinely rough play in the post, Howard pointed at a ref (an NBA no no!) and dismissed him with a wave. Hence, the ref’s whistle blew and Dwight was gone for the night, and quite possibly, forever in Laker purple and gold.
Los Angeles Lakers’ General Manager Mitch Kupchack and other would-be NBA GMs took note of Howard’s immaturity yesterday. They observed the lack of leadership, the paucity of discipline, the poor passing and the inexcusable, selfish acts on the court that should preclude them from writing that monster check they were prepared to cut only months earlier.
Sure, they might be able to live with D12’s woeful free throw shooting and raw overall offensive game. However, no prudent NBA exec would invest his owner’s megabucks by signing this immature, undisciplined and still unproven (in the NBA Playoffs) talent.
My hope is that Howard quickly grows up, both on and off the court. May he mature into a mature and responsible NBA player and man.
And, may the long and “whining” road that Dwight Howard embarked upon in Orlando that ended badly in Los Angeles yesterday, eventually transport the NBA all-star to a destination where NBA fans could admire him both on and off the court.
MIKE – aka Mike Raffone – thee ultimate talking head on sports!