Conflict Resolution

Emile Avanessian —  September 26, 2012

Imagine watching your dad parking a brand new Corvette in the garage, knowing that it’s all yours, but having to wait six months to get your license.

With the strangest summer since… well, yet another strange summer in Lakerland in the rearview, the goings-on of recent months have begun to take root in reality. Learning – while watching fireworks rain down on the Hudson – that one of the game’s true maestros will conduct the Lakers’ offense this season (and the next couple to come) is enough to slap a perma-grin on the most cynical of mugs. That said, not until the deal was legally consummated and Steve Nash presented to our euphoric lot (and the crestfallen masses) did his arrival begin to feel “real.” Even so, not until we see a purple- or gold- (or, on Sundays, white-)clad #10 tightrope the baseline – as only he can – will the 50-40-90-laced dream otherwise known as “Steve Nash, Laker point guard” truly be an actuality.

In similar vein, not until we’ve watched one of the NBA’s most incisive penetrators attack the paint and revisit the strategic misstep that brought him eye-to-(I dunno, chin? Nose?) with the league’s most dominant interior defender, or until an errant attempt on offense is rerouted through the Lakers’ goal with devastating force will “Dwight Howard is our freaking center!” be cemented in reality.

Thing is, for reasons that I struggle to explain, the notion of Steve Nash manning the controls of the offense, while no more enthralling, has proven easier to accept than has that of Dwight Howard assuming  the role of Laker legend in the middle.

Simplistically, it may just be the passage of time. The Nash trade was announced on July 4, while Dwight was not Westward bound until August 10. Perhaps an extra five weeks of the Steve Nash Experience engendered a familiarity that’s not yet emerged in our relationship with Dwight Howard.

Eh. Unlikely.

Perhaps it’s preexisting familiarity. Born of eight years of divisional cohabitation and three playoff encounters – including 2006, in which the eighth-seeded Lakers squandered a commanding 3-1 series lead to the top-seeded Suns before succumbing in seven, and 2010, when an overachieving Suns squad took two from the eventual champion Lakers in the Western Conference Finals – Steve Nash has squared off against the Lakers 56 times in his 17-year career, 47 after rejoining the Phoenix Suns in 2004. For all the hype surrounding every Kobe-LeBron “duel,” and the compelling, evolving rivalry with the Oklahoma City Thunder, it’s difficult to think of an opponent whose path has more often crossed that of the Lakers, or one that has left a more indelible mark in the collective mind of Laker Nation. I know what they say about familiarity and contempt, but under the right circumstances it’s also been known to breed respect and admiration.

Meanwhile, over the same eight-year period (since entering the NBA in 2004-05), due obviously to his Eastern locale, Dwight Howard faced the Lakers just 20 times. And while 16.9 points (56.8% from the field) and 12.8 rebounds (3.55 ORB) per game is hardly pedestrian, most fans (this one for sure) are likely hard pressed to recall even one truly memorable performance turned in by Dwight against the Lakers –  and that includes the five encounters in nine days comprising the competitive-but-hardly-epic 2009 Finals.

More than either of these, however, is the degree to which each man impacts the roster. While each represents a significant improvement over his predecessor(s) in the Laker lineup, Nash is the Holy Grail, an oasis amid the Smush Vujamarsessisher desert, while Howard “merely” kicks the center spot up from All-Star to All-World. Again, though, this smacks of oversimplification.

I mean, as good as Andrew Bynum was, is and may be going forward, Dwight Howard is, right now, Andrew Bynum actualized. Howard is the most physically imposing and dominant big man since Shaq, with a dedication to conditioning mocking that of his fellow Orlando defector. Prior to 2011-12, Howard had missed an average of one game per season over his first seven in the NBA. And last season, the most injury-plagued and distraction-laden of his career? The one in which he missed 12 of 66 regular season games and had his back cut on upon at season’s end? (NOTE: These playoff stats are from the spring of 2011. In putting together this section of the article, I went with my Basketball-Reference muscle memory and totally overlooked Dwight’s absence from last year’s playoffs. HORRIBLE snafu on my part.) He capped it off with a six-game playoff run in which he averaged 27 and 15.5, and made not only 63% of his field goals, but 68.2% of his free throws (60-of-88).

Additionally, the consistency with which he has handled his business on the court is nothing short of staggering. Over his past six seasons, Howard has averaged no worse than 17.6 points per game (20+ four times) or 12.3 rebounds per (14+ three times), and just once (56.9% last season) posted a True Shooting Percentage below 60%. Howard is not only (by far) the NBA’s best center, but an evolutionary Moses Malone. A certified superstar. Were he to retire tomorrow, Dwight Howard would be Hallward bound.

Why then – again, despite incredible happiness and renewed optimism – am I unable to fling myself head over heels for the player with the greatest potential to pen the next chapter in the Lakers’ glorious tome?

Because Dwight Howard is a frightening study in paradox.

Despite a granite frame, physical gifts the likes of which the position has rarely seen and the advantage of youth over his veteran backcourt mates, it is Dwight who’s most recently faced the most potentially debilitating injury.

He is the 26 year-old manchild who led Rashard Lewis, Hedo Turkoglu and Jameer Nelson to the Finals, but has been accused (wrongly) of lacking the killer instinct of his top teammates – noted high-functioning sociopath Kobe Bryant and less-abrasive-but-equally-bloodthirsty Steve Nash – and… hey, cool elephant, dude… (Far more accurately) of holding hostage and tearing asunder the only NBA franchise for whom he’s (thus far) ever suited up.

Now in the role for which he was seemingly created. In the city, with the franchise that will deliver to him the ceaseless attention he seeks. He’s got a roster around him that’s not only prepared to win now, but consists of a trio of transcendent talents whose skills beautifully complement his own. Unfortunately, his contract offers the organization the least in terms of long term security and leverage, and his track record of accountability and, ahem, in just this scenario is, well… dicey at best.

Prior to the moderately coherent babbling above, my joy, optimism and trepidation over the Lakers’ acquisition of Dwight Howard has been available exclusively in 140-character increments. I could present semi-legitimate explanations involving travel, work schedule, evil corporate web filters and a comprehensive, gaming-inducing immersion into college football. And I wouldn’t be lying. Thing is, as much as any of these obstacles stood in the way of long-form pontification on D-12, the fact of the matter is I really was not sure what my thoughts were on the matter.

I’m still not entirely certain.

Dwight is obviously a monumental pickup and an upgrade over an already excellent center. I am prepared, eager, to welcome him into my sporting family. I look forward to the lane being off-limits to the opposition, to dominating the glass, to top-of-the-square catches on alley-oops, to five months of open spot-ups in the corner for Metta, to the ascent of the pick-and-roll to its highest elevation, to the two-man game with Pau Gasol, and to regular 20-20s. A healthy (thus far there is no reason to believe that he’ll be anything but) Dwight Howard, a generational superstar at the peak of his powers, will rank among the great acquisitions in NBA history. That said…

To ignore to manner in which he handled his business with the Magic, and the unseemly manner in which he orchestrated his exit from Orlando would be to willfully rejoice in the suffering of a fan base whose emotions and allegiances mirror our own (remember Kobe in 2007?). I have not one iota of blame for fans in central Florida whose anger over Dwight’s conduct – the false hope, the wishy-washiness, the contradictions, the insincere people-pleaser routine – does not subside for some time. That said…

While I did not initially celebrate the arrival of Dwight Howard with the childlike enthusiasm that came so easily for Steve Nash, I think I have arrived. I’m not sure the process leading up to Dwight’s departure from Orlando will ever not feel kinda gross. And yes, like anyone entering into a relationship with someone with checkered past, my guard may be up a bit higher than normal for a little while. But, as with Shaq, Kobe, Lamar Odom and Andrew Bynum, I look forward to watching – with a clean slate – the growth and evolution of Dwight Howard, as he pens what are certain to be the defining chapters of his legendary career.

Dwight Howard is our freaking center.

Emile Avanessian

Posts

59 responses to Conflict Resolution

  1. Howard didn’t play in last season’s playoffs and also jameer didn’t play Until the finals in dwights championship run

  2. Beautifully written indeed

  3. Enjoyed the post. Especially this sentence -

    “I mean, as good as Andrew Bynum was, is and may be going forward, Dwight Howard is, right now, Andrew Bynum actualized.”

    But DH didn’t play in last year’s playoffs after his surgery…?

    “The one in which he missed 12 of 66 regular season games and had his back cut on upon at season’s end? He capped it off with a six-game playoff run in which he averaged 27 and 15.5, and made not only 63% of his field goals, but 68.2% of his free throws (60-of-88).”

    Where are these stats from?

    http://sports.yahoo.com/nba/players/3818/gamelog

  4. #s 1 and 3: Good catch. I brainfarted terribly in the process and erroneously mixed up two seasons. Noted. Thanks.

  5. LA is a town full of dogs from all walks of life. A few more fleas wouldn’t even trigger a tail wag. D12 may have floundered in a somewhat less than ideal past year and change, but he’s ours now. All he has to do is flash that huge grin after a put-back slam and the city is his. The real celebration of his arrival will follow shortly thereafter.

  6. Off topic, but as to the NBA rankings on ESPN, i mostly agree. I would, however, not have Rose in the top 5 (and above Kobe, i might add) as a result of his injury and the fact he might not even play most of the 2012-2013 season. My top 10 would be as follows:

    1. Lebron
    2. Durant
    3. Howard
    4. Paul
    5. Kobe
    6. Wade
    7. Westbrook
    8. Rose
    9. Love
    10. D Will

  7. Also, i was going to mention how some of the extended side notes and plethora of dashes – - – ones like this – - – are quite distracting. As are sentence fragments. But you beat me to it with the “Prior to the moderately coherent babbling above.”

    Well played, sir. Well played.

  8. I think it’s comical that people come to this site, criticize the writing and then leave. We’re here to have a discussion about basketball, not someone’s writing style. It’s a testament to internet anonymity that people leave the types of comments they do.

    People simply don’t understand the time, effort, and commitment it takes to write thoughtfully on any topic. But then here comes some internet grammar police to try and tear it down behind the facade of some humor. I wouldn’t mind if commenters like that just went away.

  9. Wow, how dumb are Skip Bayless and Stephen A Smith when Snoop Dogg comes off like the voice of reason?

    Really enjoyed (last thread) the link to the Lakers pre-training camp work out. A. Jamieson really seems like a likable, bright dude who is sincerely grateful for this opportunity. Love it.

  10. This piece should be shown throughout all the blogosphere. This schtick is epic.

    “Howard is the most physically imposing and dominant big man since Shaq, with a dedication to conditioning mocking that of his fellow Orlando defector.” – I LOL’d

    Nice interview from Jamison in the last post. Sounds like we’re finally getting Tru Warrior Ron.

  11. I thought this was one of the best written basketball pieces I’ve ever read

  12. Aaron: I agree. All fb&g pieces are great but Emile Avanessian has been on fire. He’s had a couple more similar to this format recently. The ham sandwich I have every day this time was that much more enjoyable today because of this piece.

  13. - If the ESPN rankings were voted by players, GMs or coaches, it might be noteworthy, but coming from the ESPN writers….not so much.

    - I think it’s unfortunate that Dwight has gotten such a bad rap for the way he handled his exit from Orlando. When a player, who wants to leave, gives ownership ample time to get assets in return, he is doing the team a FAVOR. He could have left like Lebron, who handled his exit in a purely business like fashion, by misleading his team into thinking they had a chance to sign him, than leaving them high and dry without getting anything in return. This was Lebron’s right to do so. It might have been a dirty move to some, but it’s no different than the Lakers trading away Norm Nixon, Wilkes, Fish, etc. It’s business in the purest sense. Dwight, on the other hand, could of handled it like a businessman, but he showed some respect and relative amount of loyalty by giving Orlando every opportunity to trade him for assets, and and in this day and age, where loyalty is such a rare commodity in the NBA, I can only applaud him for doing something that he was never obligated to do.

  14. I wasn’t so sure that trading Bynum was the thing to do, but after letting it sink in, I’m coming around.

    Probably Dwight will fit in more with the offense than Bynum, who probably needs an offense built around him, as opposed to Dwight who will probably play off Nash and Kobe better.

    And Dwight is the equal of Lebron as a physical presence. Finally, this season is about to begin.

  15. I have to admit, I am still not quite grasping the fact that we have Steve Nash AND Dwight freakin Howard.

    Thinking it has to do with the trauma suffered after being way too giddy with Malone & Payton.

    While I understand that this is very different, I still ‘feel’ very similar to what I felt back then and my mind is furiously trying to moderate its enthusiasm.

  16. Did the NBA rank just put D Wade ahead of Kobe? This is ridiculous.

  17. Emile killed it. Very, very, very nice work.

  18. Agree with Darius. The people who contribute to this forum are taking valuable time out of their day to research and construct these posts. The grammar/writing police act (just directing this in general, I’ve seen it several times over the last few months) seems a bit disrespectful.

    Also, this piece was phenomenally written.

    I went through sort of the same emotions Emile’s describing. I strongly, strongly, strongly disliked Dwight for all the off-court stuff. That did temper my enthusiasm more than it probably should have. But at the same time, I’m getting excited to see Dwight shore up my biggest pet peeve – our inconsistency guarding the PnR. It might take some time for his personality to grow on me, but at the end of the day, dude’s a Laker.

  19. Great Stuff Emilie… you should be at espn for this.. lol

    however, there is one thing that didn’t sound right when reading through the article…

    you said,

    “I mean, as good as Andrew Bynum was, is and may be going forward, Dwight Howard is, right now, Andrew Bynum actualized. ”

    I don’t know if that is accurate. D12′s game is so much different than that of Bynum. Agility wise, D12 is universe away from AB.

    They are two differently build athlete. Two distinct physique. So, their game will never come to be similar.

    Correct me if I am wrong.

  20. As others have stated, Emile torched this one. It’s writing such as this that has, basically, made me an addict of FB&G who’s not even contemplating rehab.

    ” … not until we’ve watched one of the NBA’s most incisive penetrators attack the paint and revisit the strategic misstep that brought him eye-to-(I dunno, chin? Nose?) with the league’s most dominant interior defender … will “Dwight Howard is our freaking center!” be cemented in reality.” – True indeed Emile .. True Indeed

  21. Wade is at 8 on my espn, why are ppl saying he’s ahead of Kobe, who’s at 6?

    LeBron – Durant – Howard – Paul and Rose are probably 1-5.

    Can’t really argue with that unless we’re not sure how Howard and Rose will recover from their injuries.

    And really, I love that now we have this kind of stuff on record – people will realize that it really means something to be ranked in the top 10 at his 16th season and show proper respect once Kobe hangs it up.

  22. So if Kobe’s #6, that makes him #5 of players who’ll get on the court this season, and #4 of players who’ll be active on opning night…

    That seems about right.

  23. Emile: “While I did not initially celebrate the arrival of Dwight Howard with the childlike enthusiasm” – I do not share this in common with you : )

    D Wade: He is below Kobe on every list I can imagine being created. Unless it is a list of the biggest PUNKs in the NBA – in which case – Wade is #1.

    KB: The lowest he should be is #5 and I would have him at 4. In any case, we have 2 of the top 5 and then we have Pau and Nash to boot. We have an awesome club and soon it will be time to start showing the rest of the league.

  24. This is my top 10

    LeBron
    Durant
    Dwight
    Paul
    Love
    Westbrook
    Rondo
    Kobe
    Wade
    Bosh

  25. Emile is on point! Great article. And, yes Dwight Howard is our freaking center!

  26. Guys, thanks so much for all of the kind words. Really.

  27. Agree with others who’ve praised this piece. Howard’s antics and Nash’s history against the Lakers made it initially tough for me to warm up to their presence, much like my reaction to Malone and Payton in 2003.

    But if these guys bust their a-s and help the Lakers regain their past glory, all will be forgiven. Malone won me over in his one season in L.A. (Payton, who was selfish, did not.)

    I can’t totally back Howard until he signs an extension, however. Sans that, and given the garbage he pulled in Orlando… he’s just not wholly in my fold of fan acceptance. Hopefully he wins me over too.

  28. Great writeup… and I feel very much the same way.

    But before this season, I think D-12 has a pretty perfect past as a franchise frontfigure, so maybe he just deserves a pass for a year of less impressive handling of that role!?

  29. Great write-up Emile.

  30. a fun read, and imagine, the leps signed darko freaking milicic!

  31. DH12 sighting!
    http://tinyurl.com/cnynwmk

    Glad to see that he’s already out there on the courts!! Assuming he recovers fully, I’m sure he’ll be playing the year with a massive chip on his shoulder. By his own admission, he cares deeply about the way he is viewed. And what better way to repair a tarnished reputation than by winning on the court??

  32. why is my comment stuck in moderation?

  33. Another way to look at the NBA’s top 10 players as voted on by 104 ESPN b-ball experts:

    Kobe is the 3rd best player in the City of L. A. (behind D-12 & CP3).

  34. BigCitySid wrote on September 27, 2012 at 5:51 am

    Another way to look at the NBA’s top 10 players as voted on by 104 ESPN b-ball experts:

    Kobe is the 3rd best player in the City of L. A. (behind D-12 & CP3).
    ——————

    Total disrespect of Kobe. I am nor sure CP3 will ever be in Kobe’s league even at this juncture of Kobe’s career.

  35. Kobe may be the 3rd best player in the City of LA, but he leads both of them with 5 rings to nil.

    Heck, Kobe has roughly the same number rings than everyone else in the city of LA combined! (Pau 2, Odom 2, Metta 1, Billups 1)

  36. After watching the latest Dwight workout video; he looks good,maybe 2 weeks away from 1/2 court work,3-4 weeks from full court. He needs to get into basketball shape by playing the game, so I expct him to play limited minutes at first. Despite prior stats, the big question is how well Howard and Nash will blend with the team on O and D. I expect a slow start for the team, and some growing pains.

  37. I find this whole player rating downright hilarious. It’s blatantly subjective – even if you poll a thousand “experts”, there is NO way you can quantitatively compare players at different positions.

    This whole statistical way of analyzing players in isolation might make sense for baseball – it’s essentially an isolation-ist sport. And even there, you rarely talk about the best “player” in baseball? Quick – who is it? Josh Hamilton? Justin Verlander? Matt Cain? How about football?

    Basketball is very different. Too many variables – team composition, coaching, opponent line-up all impact any given player’s contribution at any point in time in a single game, let alone an entire season.

  38. emile: i’m still imagining that brand new corvette. only in my imagination, i’m coloring it blue and gold. convertible? why not. it’s lala land and we can dream now that laker front office has made it possible to dream the now possible.

    kudos to you emile. you’ve taken us in a whole new direction. keep up the good writing.

    and while we at it…

    go Lakers !

  39. @ dice8up, no disrespect, just fact. If you were drafting for a team from the 30 NBA players on the Clips & Lakers today and you had the 1st or 2nd pick, are you saying you would pick Kobe before D-12 or CP3?

    No disrespect for Kobe’s 5 titles, but don’t forget in most of those championships he was the 2nd best player on a team with the league’s most dominate player (Shaq).

    I can appreciate your love of Kobe, Kareem is my favorite all-time player, but I can’t ignore the fact that most of his 6 titles was won because he played with the best point guard in NBA history. That’s why titles are a TEAM achievement, not an individual one.

    Three teams have two players ranked in the top ten, the Lakers, Heat, and Thunder. And that’s a major reason why they will be the top teams favored to win this year’s title.

    If any other team wins the title this year, it will be considered a major upset.

  40. No doubt about it, this is the best upgrade Lakers ever had going back to Showtime era. When Shaq was signed with Kobe, it took some time for them to take off because Kobe is not seasoned yet, some stars were about to retire like Byron Scott and others. In this season, we all know what Howard, Nash, Jamison and Meeks, Duhon and others and what they can do if you mixed them with the Laker veterans, it’s an explosion of the mega stars Nova. We all want to know whether the pilot can capture its intensity and the heat that comes with it. I don’t think you can compare Bynum, Odom, Farmar, Shanwow to the new acquisitions. This is a new world Lakers order.

    PS. Darius, I have no qualms on the writers, in fact they do painstaking effort in creating composition. If you meet critics, that’s part of normal business. Someone has to add or detract, polish or make it politically correct….it is just a way of life of bloggers in participating.

    However, if you permit me to suggest I’m curious on personal news account among the newcomers that may fall outside of basketball. Somehow, they got a life too, isn’t it? I know it is coming and just anticipating on it. Btw, if we don’t comment that often, it means we have a life too outside of basketball, the focus at this time is on auto reading.

  41. I wonder how much more I’ll take for Pau to be recognized as the best international player ever. Obviously the leader on Spain’s national team and has shown his worth in 08 and 12 coming close to beating USA both times. He’s the top Olympic scorer ever, has two rings , ROY, all star appearances and one of the best clutch big game players in the league. See game 7 vs Boston, game 7 vs Houston, game 7 vs Denver. Dirk, Ginobli, Nash and Sabonis are probably the others who could be in that discussion. But if Lakers win this year he has to be the top international player ever.

  42. any_one_mouse said it all in his 39 post. I can’t stand the “baseball” approach to ranking basketball players.

    With that said, LeBron is the best player in the league no matter what criteria one uses.

  43. @43 Kevin – did you see Drazen Petrovic playing for the Nets back in the days?

    Sabonis was THE beast in his prime, but when he came to the NBA, he was far away from the old Sabonis. Had knee and booze problems (all cured by the time he was here but still…). But in his golden years, he was like a Larry Bird in a 7 foot body. I saw him destroy an entire team by himself (his generation of former soviet union bball players was not the best until they found Kachenco). It was very frustrating to cheer for the other team, as he always manage to kill you…Post up, elbow, 3-point, dunks…you name it.

    Pau is a unique type of player. The way he adapts to plays and systems makes him the perfect go-to-guy. Best foreigner ever? Hm, I’m a BIG fan of Pau, but Petrovic made an impact, as far as I can remember.

  44. Here’s an article that talks about the Harden issue in OKC: http://tinyurl.com/9adwygk

    Harden deserves a max contract. OKC cannot afford one. So who blinks first? If they don’t reach an agreement by end of October, I believe Harden is most likely gone – some team will offer him the max. Which makes their window even smaller than ours, as confusing as that sounds!

  45. One could make a case for Ginobli in the best international player debate as well.

    Everybody seems eager to diminish the Mamba. Kobe ain’t going anywhere. He’s far from through.

  46. Hill pleads no contest to abuse charge, and it was dropped down to a misdemeanor. Now the plaintiff plans to file a civil suit for the cheddar.

    This means that Hill is clear to play, though he might miss time if the civil suit ever reaches trial.

  47. @BigCity , If I have to draft today, i would still take Kobe over D12 and CP3.. you can say all you want about who’s on their team. Did you watch the La-Orlando finals… Kobe punked Dwight, it’s all about heart and will. CP3 game has plateaued already, They are at the moment at the top of their game, you can say the same thing about Dwight. Yet for all the years that Kobe played at that level(16 years and counting), he is still up there. I would place my money on that kind of player anytime and every time.

  48. @BigCity , I am not even talking about titles here. I believe I have not mentioned titles in my comment.

    La-Boston finals lineup:

    Fish-KB-Ron-Odom-Pau(Bynum was injured)

    Versus

    Rondo-Allen-Pierce-KG-Perk

    At that time, the odd makers and pundits gave LA little chance of winning the series just by looking at the personnel on each team. Position by position, only the shooting guard had LA on the advantage. Everyone had a horrible shooting night by game 7. Exhaustion and pressure of the game has taken its toll on every player from both side. Kobe willed the team by out-rebounding Perk and KG, and he is just a shooting guard, it would have been understandable if Kobe is a SF-F like LBJ. It was just pure fortitude, so beautiful to watch. I replayed the second half of that game for the nth time this morning.

    My question, would that team win over Boston, had we had CP3 on the point, and a shooting guard?

    I am not even sure if they would have gone past second round.

    Do you see what I mean why I would choose Kobe over CP3 and D12 even at this point of his career?

    He may have lost half a step, but inner strength is never lost. That’s what separates him from the rest, and that’s what D12 is going to learn from him. That’s what his Olympic teammates have learned from him. They said it themselves.

  49. @ dice, you are indeed entitled to your opinion, after all professional NBA GM’s have made incorrect decisions when drafting, so you’d be in good company…or bad, depending on how you look at it. There is a reason why the Laker front office pushed very hard to get both D-12 & CP3, a very good reason.

    The very best Laker teams Kobe ever played on, he was the 2nd best player on the team. While you may see that as a knock on Kobe, I see it as a positive for the Lakers. And as I have always stated, I’m a Laker fan 1st. I want what’s best for the team. Kobe is not going to play forever, changes have to be made and the people in charge of making those decisions realize that.

    The 1st game D-12 steps on the court begins the D-12 Laker era. How long, how successful, only time will tell.

  50. @BigCIty, you keep mentioning Kobe being the 2nd best player. On that team, (maybe the first championship team) Kobe was just 22 years old, remember. By the time the repeat and 3peat came, he was already the clear leader on the team during money time, Shaq spend considerable time on that bench during the end game, Phil Jax has to pull him out. I don’t have to state the obvious reason.

    How old is CP3 and D12 now? They are both 27.

    Sports is not all talent and skills… there are other equally important facets of sports that we tend to overlook.

    We are both a fan of the game and an LA lakers fan. What is amazing is that, we have 2 of LA’s best on on our team.

    I think a major reason why we have Howard instead of Bynum is that, FO couldn’t see that the franchise could be entrusted to Bynum. IN D12 we have a franchise player when Kobe finally rides the bus or one who Kobe will be able to leave the reigns to and respects.

    It’s a good day to be a Lakers fan!!!

  51. (46) Ironic that the latest CBA, which was shaped in great part by the desires of crabby small-market owners to keep big-market teams like the Lakers from overspending, actually makes it harder for small-market teams like OKC to spend the money it takes to stay elite.

  52. @dice

    In today’s PG heavy NBA I can’t see taking Kobe over Paul. I love Kobe’s game as much as the next guy. However, he is mostly a jumpshooter at this point. That is not a knock. Time happens to us all.

    Going along with that, Howard is the ideal big man for today’s NBA. He has great lateral movement and leaping abilty making him a monster on defense. He is a dream come true in the high screen and roll. I can’t tell you how badly I’m waiting to see him and Nash running the PNR. I’d have to take him over today’s Kobe as well.

  53. Jodial,

    I said something similar during the lockout. Oddly enough, it will probably be another small market team with no real franchise player that snaps up Harden. As many have noted there are only a few true franchise players. That means a lot of second tier guys are going to get (and do get) top level money. Harden will be part of this group.

  54. to dave m: we’re waiting on your friday’s forum because today is friday and tomorrow is laker’s official start of training camp for this upcoming 2012-2013 nba season?

    need to morph into a fly and be just that at the el segundo laker training facility asap? would also need someone’s miniaturized camera and set via you tube for all to see the latest goings on there at the facility?

    these are things we the idle think about because excitement is what we’re all about and have been waiting for.

    Go Dave M and Go Lakers !

  55. BigCity-

    I will have to go with a saying from Aaron here- “It’s not rocket science.” Of course Howard and Paul are better than Kobe right now. Kobe is 34 going on 35 years old. They are 27. However, this is still Kobe’s team and it will be his team until he rides off into the sunset. He knows that, a healthy, Howard is the best player on the team and I’m pretty sure that you will see him defer quite a bit to Nash/Howard. Maybe defer is the wrong word. He will be content to allow the offense to flow through Nash/Howard. It will be interesting to see how Kobe handles closing on wide open jumpshots instead of isos. I’ll tell you this. Give me Kobe at 27 over either CP3 or Howard.

    So, we are in agreement there. I can’t agree with you about Kobe being the second best player on the best Lakers teams. Kobe sacrificed the expansion of his game to play as a team with Shaq. Shaq was a great player, but he was also extremely flawed when you factor in his free throw shooting. When you have to change your offense because your “best” player can’t touch the ball, then you are severely handicapped. When your “best” player has to go to the bench because teams are hacking him, then how is he the best player? I agree with dice8up that Shaq was 1A to Kobe’s 1B on the first ‘chip. However, they were equals during the next two. Without Kobe closing teams out, there would not have been a three-peat.

  56. MagicPhil: Those two haven’t had the success Pau has in the NBA. There are many who can make a case but when you combine the Olympics in 08 and 12 and look at what Pau has done his NBA career he had to be the best.

  57. @KenOak,

    Well said, well said. I couldn’t have said it any better.

  58. @T. Rogers,

    I respect your opinion and choice. You will not be wrong in choosing D12 over Kobe today.

    But I would still choose this years Kobe over this years Dwight. Until otherwise proven, I’ll stick to my gun.

    This season has gotten so much hype as much.