Dwight Howard Sr. doesn’t agree with Kobe Bryant’s criticism of his son. When asked for his thoughts on the recent public spat between Bryant and Lakers center Dwight Howard, the elder Howard said that he thinks that Bryant was out of line (via The Atlanta Journal-Constitution):
“I told him before he said it publicly, ‘It’s your career. No person can say what you need to do or not do. You can’t worry about what Kobe or anybody else says,’” Howard Sr. said. “Nobody can say what Kobe said — that’s stepping into another man’s shoes. I understand what Kobe was trying to do, but he went about it the wrong way. He’s trying to win a championship. But Dwight has to tell Kobe, ‘I appreciate your opinion, but that doesn’t matter. We’re two men on this team. We need to be reasonable about this.’”
Howard’s father went to place some of the blame on Lakers’ coach Mike D’Antoni.
“The problem is the coach. (D’Antoni) needs to step in and say, ‘You guys have got to be quiet. We’re trying to secure something here. Dwight is probably looking at the coach, thinking, ‘What are you going to do?’ I promise, if that had been Stan Van Gundy, that wouldn’t have happened. (Howard) wouldn’t have been admonished publicly. I think the coach has a lot to do with who controls Kobe’s mouth right now.”
Perhaps the most interesting comment from Howard’s dad came when he spoke about his son’s decision to pursue a trade from Orlando after initially opting into his contract with the Magic last season. “In his heart of hearts, I’m still not sure he was really sold on leaving Orlando.” said Howard Sr. “I don’t think he realized some of the things he was being blessed with in Orlando.”
Howard Sr. also stated that he still expects his son to re-sign with the Lakers.
I’m not going to attack a father for coming to his son’s defense, and I think that Howard’s father is taking a reasonable position under the circumstances. However, I think a couple of things are clear at this point. For one, with every Lakers game we are getting more and more evidence that what many critics have long suspected about Dwight Howard is the truth. Howard has always appeared to lack the killer instinct that separates elite NBA superstars from the rest of the players in the league because he worries too much about what is said about him in the media. That flaw in Howard’s game is being exposed even more now that Howard is Los Angeles under the national spotlight.
Secondly, I think Howard’s father is correct about Howard taking some of the things he had in Orlando for granted. While plenty of people like to criticize star athletes who push for moves that send them out of small markets and into large ones, that exact situation occurs frequently in just about any other profession. Big-time lawyers want to work at firms in New York, Los Angeles, or D.C. Plastic surgeons want to work in Beverly Hills or Miami. Advertising/Sales professionals want to work on Madison Avenue. However, like many of the professionals in those industries soon realize after stepping up into bigger markets, some athletes learn that they were better off being big fish in small ponds. Dwight Howard is looking like he fits into that category.
Howard may still develop the killer-instinct that he’s lacking after going through the fire this season in Los Angeles, but Lakers fans who were expecting the start of another purple and gold dynasty this season are probably going to be disappointed this summer.