BOO, BOO, BOO : Laker Fans Welcome Back Dwight Howard
Circumstances Led To The Loss Of Howard, Pau Gasol
December 1, 2016
When free agent center Dwight Howard left the Lakers after the 2012-’13 season fans were very angry.
Ever since then Howard has been treated harshly at Staples Center from the opening introductions to the final buzzer every time he’s played here. Every time he’s handled the ball in fact.
It happened again Sunday night when the Lakers erased an early deficit to defeat the Atlanta Hawks.
I don’t expect Laker fans to ease up on Howard because of anything I write. But I’d like to tell you what I think about this.
Howard rarely got the ball in his only season here when Mike D’Antoni was the coach.
D’Antoni had enjoyed NBA success with his philosophy of favoring three-point shooting rather than building an offense around a center. The center’s job was to chase after rebounds.
D’Antoni had coached the Phoenix Suns to the Western Conference playoff finals twice and he brought his philosophy to the Lakers but he was a poor fit for a team that had a history of featuring dominant canters (Wilt, Shaq, Kareem) and now had Howard and Pau Gasol.
Pretty soon Howard left for Houston and Gasol left for Chicago following a season when he was taken out of D’Antoni’s starting lineup.
I thought Gasol, who is a career-long premier player and contributed significantly to two Laker championship teams, was was mistreated by the Lakers. He later told reporters frequent trade rumors about him and removal from the starting lineup led to his decision to leave.
D’Antoni was only doing what he thought was best. So I ask why did the Lakers make him the coach when the personnel wasn’t right for his system?
The choice was D’Antoni or Phil Jackson. Later Jackson said he would have featured Howard and Gasol in his offense.
Friends have advised me to write that Laker fans should boo D’Antoni rather than Howard. But I don’t think that would be right either. D’Antoni was merely sticking to a system that had worked for him.
On Sunday Atlanta began the game by repeatedly getting the ball to Howard, who scored eight of the team’s first 12 points. Howard cooled off but finished with 19 points and nine rebounds.
After the game he was asked about the booing and said “I
close my ears.”
Well, that’s one way to deal with it.