I know what common logic entails when it comes to Dwight Howard this summer. I know folks don't think he's a great fit in Mike D'Antoni's system, that he isn't ready to be "the man" in an intense media market like Los Angeles and that he'll continue to wither playing second fiddle to Kobe Bryant.
I won't deny the validity of any of those claims. But that won't stop me from yelling, at the top of my lungs, that Dwight Howard would be CRAZY to leave the Los Angeles Lakers.
Okay, so I'm not actually yelling, or standing, or gyrating violently or anything like that. But Howard should stay in LA, and here's why.
Let's start with the money, namely that the Lakers can offer Howard a five-year, $118 million contract extension, more than any other team in the league. That's some serious scratch, and it's a pretty darn good reason to stick around.
Besides, few other commodities are as marketable as a major superstar donning a Lakers jersey, let's be honest.
And who wouldn't want the chance to become a legend at one of the most successful and famous franchises in all of professional sports, especially at center? George Mikan, Wilt Chamberlain, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Shaquille O'Neal and... Dwight Howard?
I can't get inside Dwight Howard's wisecracking head and see if he wants to be remembered as one of the all-time greats, but if he does, there isn't another franchise that has rolled out more legendary centers than the Lakers.
Speaking of the Lakers, the one thing you can always count on is the team striving to roll out a winner. Playing for the Lakers may bring with it a different level of pressure and scrutiny than you'll find in other organizations, but, as a player, you also know that the front office will always try to build a championship contender.
I don't know about Mr. Howard, but I would find that both comforting and invigorating from a professional standpoint.
Sure, this current Lakers team has issues, but nothing that can't be solved. Howard was able to get Stan Van Gundy fired—who is to say he can't do the same to D'Antoni?
Sure, the roster needs some reworking, but would you really be surprised if Pau Gasol was finally traded this offseason?
And sure, the "Kobe Show" can be stifling. But look, Kobe and Shaq eventually made things work to the ring of three titles and Kobe's not going to play forever, either.
If you were Howard, would you really want to be remembered for completely and utterly shrinking to the challenge of succeeding with the Lakers? Would you really shrink from the pressure of trying to succeed with one of the top franchises in the NBA?
Maybe you would. We'll certainly find out what Howard will decide to do soon enough. But personally, I think he would be nuts to leave the Lakers.
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