It was early in the 4th quarter and Steve Kerr asked an obvious question, “Why do you think Dwight Howard’s on the floor?” The Lakers were down by 32 points and the beleaguered center had been tossed back into the chum for some reason or another. It was his first game back after a week off due to a torn labrum. He was playing hurt and playing poorly and the team would be facing the Bobcats in less than 24 hours. A couple minutes later Dwight picked up his sixth foul, thereby solving his awkward dilemma. He trudged back to the bench and sat down slowly and stiffly. And the game burned out.
It has been a trainwreck of a season for the Los Angeles Lakers, sprinkled with hopeful resets and black holes. Jordan Hill’s out for the season. Pau Gasol’s out for at least six weeks. And Howard has been a curious and inconsistent presence – perfect fodder for a media market that licks its chops at the prospect of a newly-arrived superstar who’s not only injured but can’t or won’t keep his mouth shut. Earlier this week, Dwight said that his legs go numb after sitting for a couple minutes. It’s not a reassuring message to be sending out, especially when your team has just promised not to trade you.
It’s been that kind of season. Inexplicable. Contradictory. And willingly spoon-fed into the gaping yaw of the media blitz.
So long to the Superman pseudonym writes Dave McMenamin for ESPN GO.
J.A. Adande for True Hoops says Dwight is right, but wrong for the Lakers.
Kevin Ding for the OC Register writes about Dwight and a case of rust.
Jeff Miller at the OC Register looks at Dwight’s headlines and headaches.
Paul Flannery for SB Nation examines a tough first night back, in Boston.
Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports tells of a reluctant partnership that’s not improving.
As Mike Bresnahan for the L.A. Times reports, there won’t be much of the season left when Pau Gasol finally returns.
Drew Garrison for Silver Screen and Roll dissects Pau’s nightmare season.
Clint Peterson for Hardwood Paroxysm profiles Kobe Bryant,
Mark Medina for Inside the Lakers brings Kobe’s assertion that his comments were overblown.
Jabari Davis at Lakers Nation writes about the need to come together before tonight’s game.
If Dwight Howard is drawn to the media flame like a moth, Kobe Bryant toys with it. He measures it, F-bombs it, uses and abuses it. He learned to compartmentalize long ago, can pick and choose his targets. It’s not unlike his approach to injuries or his approach to the game itself. If he mangles a couple fingers or tears the ligaments from his wrist, he’ll adjust. This season he has played the scoring leader, the defender, the set-up man and now, is trying to form a hybrid package while teammates fall in disarray. The hopelessness around you. He may be the most polarizing basketball player in modern history. His detractors have a bottomless supply of whys and why-nots. Bryant laughs it off like a guy who’s scored 30,000 points and won five rings.
The All-Star break hasn’t yet arrived. And yet the season feels old. The Lakers are three and two so far on their Grammy road trip and that normally wouldn’t be cause for alarm except they’re still in 10th place in the west and running out of track. This past week, Bryant wondered aloud about the team’s agenda with Pau Gasol. He spoke about Dwight’s lack of experience with injuries. And as he has increasingly done lately, he mused about the possibility of retiring after next season and the importance of championships. If the rest of the season looks dark and rocky, the summer has the potential to go nuclear.