The thing is, he hasn’t quite been the same force he was all of those years in Orlando. And while Dwight has come out and made it clear he isn’t completely healthy yet from back surgery this summer, it appears the injury was a lot more serious than people thought.
If you ask Dwight, even career threatening.
The doctors made it clear to him that if he kept trying to fight through the pain “for a couple weeks or a month” more and put off surgery (as Howard sort of wanted to in order to answer critics in Orlando expecting him to bail on the franchise), he might have done irreparable harm to his spine.
“If I would have waited until after the season, if I would have tried to continue to play, then I probably wouldn’t be able to play anymore,” Howard said.
Dwight was willing to play through the injury but had to reconsider his priorities.
“If I would have waited until after the season (to have the operation), if I would have tried to continue to play, then I probably wouldn’t be able to play anymore. I had to do it right away. I didn’t want to risk my career for some playoff games. They were important for me, but my health is important.”
From an unbiased point of view, Dwight hasn’t been the same player this season when you watch him. Particularly on the defensive end, where he is supposed to anchor an otherwise lackluster defensive front.
If that is the by-product of the injury, then it was more serious than I thought.
But if the Lakers have any shot of fulfilling those championship aspirations this team was built around, they need Dwight at 100%.