Not only did Dwight Howard see his Lakers get swept by the Spurs on Sunday, he saw it conclude from the locker room upon getting ejected for his second technical foul. After the game, Magic Johnson himself called out Dwight Howard on twitter tweeting “Dwight, I’ve been swept before but I never let my team down by getting kicked out of the game”. Such words from Magic Johnson must not only sting for Dwight Howard, but it also has to make him seriously question whether or not he wants to be a part of the Lakers organization going forward.
Magic Johnson has taken it upon himself to be the apologist of the Lakers organization, calling out anybody who doesn’t live up to the standards of being a Laker and especially the standards of being the face of the Lakers. Magic Johnson is not only questioning Dwight Howard’s playing abilities, but more importantly, he’s questioning Dwight Howard’s heart and his work ethic. Nothing can be more debilitating to an athlete’s legacy than to have one of the all-time greats chew them out for lack of heart and drive. After the game, Dwight Howard himself called the end of the season a “nightmare”.
Shaquille O’Neal himself said after the game on “Inside the NBA” that he didn’t think Dwight Howard was coming back to the Lakers next season and he will instead leave to join another team in free agency. In many ways, who can blame Dwight for doing so? Sure he’s in hollywood and he’s the face of the franchise for the future, etc. But getting called out by the all-mighty Magic Johnson cannot encourage Dwight Howard to return to the Lakers. If anything it could cause him to decide to spite the Lakers instead, and leave somewhere else so he can exercise his wrath upon them for throwing him under the bus.
The Lakers better hope he decides to stay with the Lakers, because if he leaves, then the whole franchise is in complete free-fall. Kobe Bryant will never again be a dominant force in the NBA that the Lakers can build a title contender around, Pau Gasol is entering the twilight years of his career, and Steve Nash practically has one foot in the grave. The only bright spot they have at all right now is Dwight Howard, who is still a young 27 year old center on the cusp of entering his prime. They have to have him re-sign if they want any sense of hope for the future.
Magic Johnson certainly can say what he wants when he wants with impunity, but it doesn’t mean that there aren’t other ramifications that come from his words. One of them might be Dwight Howard leaving. Listen, we all know Dwight Howard didn’t play up to his standards, but neither did anybody else on that team except for Kobe Bryant. Deciding to single out the best player for the Lakers’ future and give him in essence a golden reason to bail on the franchise isn’t the brightest move by Magic Johnson.
With all that Magic Johnson has said in addition to how the season has gone as a whole, it is very hard to foresee any real good reason for Dwight Howard to come back to the Lakers. The fans hate him, Magic Johnson hates him, Shaquille O’Neal hates him, etc. Perhaps the pressures of playing for the Lakers will be too much for Dwight Howard to handle and he will instead decide to carve his own legacy out somewhere else where he can win and not be subject to pompous ridicule made by men whose shoes he will never be able to fill.