After a rocky year, Dwight Howard ended his unhealthy relationship with the Los Angeles Lakers on Friday. For months, he refused to fully emotionally and contractually commit to the Lakers, and finally, he mustered up the courage to announce that he is leaving for the Houston Rockets.
For Howard and the Lakers, the breakup should ultimately bring out the best for both sides.
But for the time being, the Lakers are the discarded boyfriend curled in the fetal position attempting to make sense of how it all ended and where it all went wrong. The moment Howard's Twitter avatar changed to a Houston Rockets jersey, the Lakers felt the pain of seeing the object of their heart’s desire with another man. The relationship was over, and all the time, energy, and love the Lakers put into Howard instantly turned into bitterness, pain, and self-doubt.
Regardless of the fans’ split thoughts on Howard while he was with the Lakers, his departure forced the Lakers to reexamine their entire franchise strategy. Howard was central to the Lakers’ transition out of the Kobe Bryant era, and his departure has a serious impact on the team’s future.
Howard found a younger and sexier partner that offers him more security and short-term gratification. In his mind, he upgraded his chances of winning, and now, he does not have to deal with the constant pressure of playing for the Lakers. Fans were always skeptical of Howard’s ability to step into Bryant’s shoes, and his departure only further validated their doubts.
For LA, Howard’s heart was clearly not into staying with the team. So, if he wasn’t committed, the relationship was destined to be doomed. Worse than failing to sign Howard would be signing Howard and building a team around an unhappy centerpiece that was not comfortable in the LA spotlight.
On his way out, Howard succeeded in shattering the confidence of the Lakers. Frankly, players do not walk away from a maximum contract to play with the Lakers.
Howard just did, and the team is still over the salary cap and does not look near a championship level. To begin the healing process, the Lakers must come to terms with the fact it is time to rebuild, and they are now playing under new league rules specifically designed to marginalize the teambuilding strategy that led to 16 championships.
Ultimately, Howard decided he was not built for the bright lights of Los Angeles, and his departure reinforced that he was not cut from the same cloth that hangs in Staples Center’s rafters.
The marriage wouldn't have worked.It wasn't meant to be, so it is time to move on, LA.