In what has been a historically turbulent season for the iconic Los Angeles Lakers franchise, perhaps no one player has experienced more prolonged pockets of rough air than that of newly acquired center Dwight Howard. Since his much heralded arrival in Southern California, last August, Howard has gone from being the final piece of a championship puzzle to now having to continually deal with inquiries regarding the severity of a nagging shoulder injury that has kept him out of six total games this season, including three during LA’s recently concluded seven-game “Grammy” road trip.
Entering Tuesday’s game with the Phoenix Suns, Howard is averaging 16.2 points, 11.7 rebounds and 2.4 blocks per game, down from his career averages of 18.3 PPG and 12.9 RPG. The Atlanta native had tallied more than 20 points per game, in four of his last five seasons, while also grabbing at least 13 rebounds per contest, for a span of five consecutive seasons. With the exception of the block shots category, the former Orlando Magic stalwart is dealing with a stat line well below the standard NBA fans had come to expect from him, over the course of his career.
As has been widely discussed, in both local and national media outlets, Howard’s troubles this season have been complicated by everything from a public spat with legendary teammate Kobe Bryant, beef with guard oriented coach Mike D’Antoni and even having to answer questions regarding a series of not so flattering to the Lakers comments, courtesy of Mr. Howard’s father, Dwight Howard Sr.
With the Lakers sitting at tenth place in the Western Conference (22-26 record), the strife surrounding Howard’s first season under the bright lights of Hollywood has been far more difficult than anyone (including we presume Howard) could have ever imagined.
Entering training camp, it was believed to be a 100 percent certainty that the soon-to-be free agent would re-sign with the Lakers, during the upcoming offseason. Besides the fact that LA could pay him the most money and because very few players leave basketball’s most glamorous team by choice, it seemed to line up perfectly that Howard would be enshrined as the next great center in the Lakers championship history, joining the ranks of George Mikan, Wilt Chamberlain, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Shaquille O’Neal.
Nowadays, there is no telling where Howard will lace up his sneakers next season, cause quite frankly, he, nor the Lakers brass have any idea what the future holds.
Tuesday, per the above iFolloSports.com original video clip, Howard was spotted signing autographs, outside the Toyota Sports Center (TSC), the Lakers’ El Segundo (CA) practice facility. On this day, Howard was extremely cordial to the awaiting group of fans, as he signed his signature and posed for photos while sitting in the backseat of a chauffeured Maybach. Howard was one of the last players to depart the TSC, roughly seven hours prior to the evening’s game at Staples Center.
The soap opera continues!