An argument could be made that the 2019 NBA comeback player of the year could easily be Dwight Howard who is in his second tour of duty with the Los Angeles Lakers. Howard is averaging 7.5 points a game, 7.4 rebounds, and 1.2 block shots in just 19 minutes per game. While the stats are impressive when you consider how little playing time he gets, his overall impact on the court and on the bench has been a major win for the Lakers.
Whats the bench got do with it? Well, Howard has earned the respect of his teammates and from a team-chemistry perspective has fit in nicely with LeBron, AD, and the rest of the cast of characters the Lakers put on the court.
Howards, first go around with the Lakers didn’t go so well on the court and certainly, he never connected with the fans the way he does now. After traveling around the country playing for a variety of teams he has been able to resurrect his career with the Lakers because of newfound unselfishness and a willingness to do the dirty work anywhere on the court.
As more and more NBA big men are retreating to the 3-point line, Howard is heading in the opposite direction and basically acting like an NHL enforcer from the 80’s on the court. The 2020 version of Dwight Howard actually reminds me of Dennis Rodman during his Chicago Bull years.
Toughness, energy, and a willingness to do whatever it takes to win have flipped the script on the perception Lakers fans once had of Howard.
As the NBA restart draws near, Howard’s decision to join the Lakers in the bubble solidifies Howard as a Lakers fan favorite and significantly increases the likelihood that the Lakers could leave the bubble with the franchises’ 17th NBA title.
Promoting Change From The Bubble
Howard who has been outspoken about the racial injustice that has plagued our country had originally indicated that he might opt-out of the NBA bubble. He appeared as a guest on “CNN Tonight with Don Lemon” on Monday night and told the host, “Yes, I will be joining my team in Orlando,.”
Howard went on to say that he will donate the remainder of his salary to his charity Breathe Again. According to ESPN’s Bobby Marks, that means he will donate in the neighborhood of $700,000.
“I have a contractual obligation to my teammates, to my fans, the Lakers, the organization and everyone, but at the same time, I also have an obligation to my family and to my community,” Howard said. “We will be getting a lot of work done here in Atlanta and around the nation as far as making sure people don’t forget about us and what’s going on in our communities.”
“During my time in the bubble, I will use that time to talk about Breathe Again, and I’m going to use my salary — all the money, the paychecks that I’ll be getting from going down in the bubble — to help push this Breathe Again [initiative], push our movement and just make sure that people don’t forget about what’s going on in our society,” Howard told CNN.
“I feel like we have a great opportunity, the Lakers do, for winning a title this year,” Howard said.
The Mighty Line
Howards 15 year journey in the NBA has been filled with lots of ups and downs and as his career winds down he has become one of the most entertaining players in the league to watch.
From a social perspective, Howard has made a wise decision to play in the bubble because he will have a larger national platform to keep fighting against racial injustice. Plus, he has a legit shot at his first championship ring.