If Facing Ultimatum, Lakers Must Choose Dwight Howard Over Kobe

If Facing Ultimatum, Lakers Must Choose Dwight Howard Over Kobe


Kobe Bryant, Dwight HowardWell, it’s official. The trade deadline came and passed in Los Angeles and Dwight Howard is still a member of the Lakers. It’s not that big of a surprise, really, since Mitch Kupchak denied the possibility of trading Howard about 174 times in the last 72 hours before the deadline. But in reality, it could be a sign of something bigger. And that could be something that many people aren’t expecting, and certainly aren’t saying.

The Lakers need to commit to Dwight Howard. And by refusing to trade him, they have begun that process.

But committing to a player, especially one as fickle as Howard, involves much more than just refusing to trade him 55 games into his tenure with the team. It involves informing him that in the near future, this will be his team. His. Not anybody else’s.

And that’s where the Lakers come across a major problem. Right now, it’s not Dwight’s team. In fact, it’s anything but.

One of the major problems with Howard’s time in Los Angeles so far has been the obvious clashing of styles between himself and Kobe Bryant. You know, the Lakers’ other All-Star player. The guy that can do no wrong in the eyes of most fans. The guy that is responsible for more Laker fans than anybody on the planet not named Magic Johnson. For many people, there’s no difference between Kobe and the Lakers. The two are synonymous. And that’s a major problem if you’re the team’s front office.

But it can’t be.

It’s almost appropriate that this comes on the heels of losing Jerry Buss. Of course the loss of Dr. Buss was a tragedy, and I would never insinuate otherwise, but one of the reasons Buss’ legend will live long after he’s gone is his ability to make difficult decisions with the long-term stakes of the team on the line. His ability to put personal feelings aside, and do what was best for the team in the long run rather than become enamored by the present was one of his biggest assets. And it allowed the Lakers to sustain an absurd level of success while Dr. Buss was pulling the strings.

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Now, however, things are different. There’s a different JB running the show in Los Angeles, and while many fans unjustly have made their minds up about Jim, he’s still an unproven entity that could go either way. But he doesn’t have the luxury of waiting very long to make his first major decision. With the summer rapidly approaching, the team is facing an enormous question. A question whose answer will dictate the next 5-10 years of basketball in Los Angeles.

Dwight Howard or Kobe Bryant?

Now, in a perfect world things would resolve and Bryant and Howard would come together to form a dynamic duo and lead the Lakers to prominence. But after a 26-29 start and the inability to go two weeks without some new report of the feud between Bryant and Howard bubbling up, it’s looking increasingly apparent that this isn’t much more than a pipe dream of the uninformed.

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For most people the answer here is simple. As I mentioned above, the connection between Bryant and the Lakers organization is indistinguishable for most. But if Jim Buss, Mitch Kupchak and the rest of the team’s front office wants to ensure the team’s success on a championship level in the long-term future the choice is abundantly clear.

Dwight Howard.

The team can go about this a couple different ways, but ultimately it means informing Howard behind closed doors that they’re going to move away from Bryant. Which isn’t going to be easy to do. First of all, can Los Angeles trust Howard to keep his mouth shut about that information if they do give it to him? Because L.A. would have to tell this to Howard this summer, before Shaquille-ONealhe bolts in free agency. The meeting would involve convincing Howard to sign a long-term deal with the knowledge that once Kobe’s contract is up at the end of 2013-14, the team wouldn’t pursue bringing him back.

This is no easy task, but ultimately it’s something that must be done.

And it’s been done before.

Let’s take a few minutes and hop into the NBA Delorean, set the time circuits for 2004 and find some open road that will let us reach 88 MPH. After the Lakers flamed out against the Detroit Pistons in the 2004 NBA Finals, it was evident that changes were going to be made. Karl Malone and Gary Payton weren’t going to be around for the future, and their shot at glory in Los Angeles was brazenly snatched from them by Chauncey Billups and a couple guys named Wallace. But other than aging veterans that hadn’t lived up to expectations in Hollywood (sound familiar?), there was a bigger problem facing the L.A. front office.

The feud between Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal had reached a boiling point. It had become evident that the two couldn’t coexist heading into the future. When you compounded that knowledge with the fact that O’Neal wanted more money than Buss was willing to give a 31-year-old center that never seemed to come into camp healthy and/or in shape. But ultimately Dr. Buss and the Lakers decided that the best business plan was to invest in the younger player, even if that meant spending a couple years at the bottom. And their decision paid off.

Los Angeles traded Shaquille O’Neal to the Miami Heat on July 14, 2004, before locking up Bryant to a long-term deal that would make him the face of the Lakers moving forward. At the time the move was highly criticized. The next season, when Shaq won a ring with the Heat, the move was criticized even further. People began to say things like “Kobe can’t win without Shaq.” Or, “the Lakers should have traded Kobe and kept O’Neal.”

But now? People are singing a very different tune. And for good reason.

Next Page: Shaq, Kobe and what it means for Dwight Howard

  • Pushbroom

    dumb post. a good coach can make both players coexist. Howard as the future? Insanity. The future of basketball isnt with centers who cant make free throws or have no offensive game. The future is players like LeBron and Durant type players…

    • Jonathan Ly

      Phil Jackson couldn’t get Shaq and Kobe to coexist, what makes you think anyone, including Phil, could salvage this.

      The Lakers need Howard, otherwise they won’t have anything. Daniel is right, Time has a perfect record against every player in the NBA. Kobe, at 34, simply cannot carry a team like his used to. A team with a 39 year old point guard, 34 year old superstar, 31 year old Second option (at best) scorer, and the league’s top center. Betting on the older half isn’t smart.

      Howard basically willed the Magic into the Magic into the Finals with 20 pts, 13 rebounds, and 3 blocks a night. That’s pretty damn good.

      The Lakers need to go with Dwight, because 2017 is generous, with just Kobe, Nash, and Pau, this team will be lucky to get out of the 1st round after 2015.

      • Pushbroom

        PJ had them co’existing, remember this. Shaq wanted more $ and was a fat ass. IMO.

      • http://profile.yahoo.com/MGM7T72G4GITVII3T25KWA63QM Kosty

        he is still the best player in the game when it comes down to it! you are completely retarded for agreeing with this article.. the man doesnt have a cane moron he just a couple months ago was averaging 30 ppg and just last month had 14 assists in 2 games. and on top of that he is the face of the lakers. dwight is injury prone as of late and has issues with his maturity. with kobe on the court you know you always have a chance to win. smh at you people for even thinking to do that

    • Yul B. Moore

      I agree I might consider this if it were Durant

  • Jose Ismael

    dwight over pau gasol then we can argue wisely and with sence but howard over kobe hum lets see howard orlando = 3 times defensive player = 0 championships so what do dwight will accomplish in LA kobe wil retired next season so if lakers want to trade some one then trade kobe if saying that howard should be over kobe well it didn’t happen so why this stupid article after the trade deadline

  • lakermike311

    Why even make this article, neither player is going anywhere

  • Jose Ismael

    look at kobe stats 2004-2005 to 2010-2011 kobe goes up in stat and shaquille goes down it’s obvious that kobe bryant maintain shaq stats high in the time they were playing together so kobe made shaq look good and shaq made kobe be not so good the stats don’t lie eh kobe was better than shaq since 99-00 remeber shaq didn’t win a championship after kobe become a full starter 99-00 so if kobe never had the chance to be a starter and maintain on the bench would shaq win those championships mi point of view fuck no

  • frantic

    this is stupid

  • http://www.facebook.com/dorothy.stratfordroeber Dorothy Stratford- Roeber

    Time for all you men (acting like children) to grow up and play basketball.


      5 is greater than 1.Kobe is the best player on the planet.The guy could have won 10 championships if he had the same supporting cast that MJ had. You guys do not know what you are talking about . Even today if the lakers can find their way to the playoffs, you will see a new reinvented team with their leader. O my God, how i missed Phil.Then, i forgot, we do not have a coach.Kobe is like MJ. I do believe that they both have the same parents.The media just lied to us.Kobe and MJ are brothers. Just kidding but this is heaven made. Please, we cannot even enter Dwight in the conversation. Even though he’s still young.Kobe all the way until he retires….. One more Kobe, please one more .For the sake of being who you are the BLACK MAMBA!!!!

  • http://www.facebook.com/lazarrea Alix Blackmamba Lazarre

    Kobe and Dwight are incomparable …first of Dwight is nothing like Kobe…Kobe had that killer instinct and let’s not forget he makes his free throws when count. If the lakers is going with Dwight over Kobe, they need to pair him with another star like a Lebron James or Chris Paul…there’s no way Dwight can carry the lakers to even 1 championship judging from his talentless skills.

  • LakerFan

    No way. Because if the Lakers do this to Kobe freaking Bryant, then what stops Dwight from thinking they’ll do the same to him?

  • http://twitter.com/Mini_Mamba Freddy J

    This is a dumb concept. The Lakers are Kobe Bryant/Magic Johnson. Shaquille O’Neal’s career was on a downward spiral (injuries, out of shape, etc.) Kobe is still playing high level ball and there is no way he would even play for another team. He has said that at this point in his career he will not be joining other teams just to chase a championship ala Gary Payton. Dwight Howard is not a person I would want to build my franchise around. You should never be an NBA GM with the insight that you showed by posting this ridiculous piece. SMDH!!


    If the Lakers trade Kobe… The Lakers will be the new Orlando Magic.

  • PraiseTheLord

    DANIEL BUERGE you got this one wrong! You do not ship your super star to impress your new guy like the bulls pushed jordan out!

  • Terrence

    This article was completely frivolous. Kobe has already said that he doesn’t see himself playing beyond his current contract. Maybe if their defending a title he’ll come back. So their games aren’t mixing well on the court right now? Wasn’t the whole point of Howard leaving Orlando to find a team with the players and strategy to win a championship. Shaq won his championships with a ball dominant wing in either Kobe or Dwade. Orlando gambled with Carter, but he just wasn’t the player they needed anymore. Howard’s never played in this style of offense and he’s only had 3/4 of a season to adjust, while dealing with injuries.

  • MJ-K

    Dumb and stupid post.. Howard is acting like freeking kide.. He can’t cary his shoulder !! Can he carry team!! No Way

  • Titan Carreon

    Kobe leaves. Lakers fans will leave as well.

  • Thirdy08

    I don’t think this article makes any sense. Trading Kobe over Howard is a suicide my friend. Howard spent several years in Orlando but never had any championship ring on his finger. Think about that! Kobe already prove himself and there’s no questions about it. He’s also willing to adjust just like what he’s doing right now passing the ball often to his team mates, facilitating the play. Isn’t a sign of maturity and doing things for the sake of team’s success? Being unselfish? Think twice my friend. Kobe is still playing with a high level of intensity. He can outscore even young superstars nowadays. He can still guard strong players such as Lebron (see all star game where he blocked him twice?) Furthermore, personality wise and vision? Howard is nothing with Kobe. Kobe has the championship spirit. Howard is still not matured enough to carry the whole team. He doesn’t have the quality of being a leader. (no offense to dwight coz I also like him as a center over other players). So if the management of Lakers will choose Dwight over Kobe, I don’t think its a wise decision.

  • http://www.facebook.com/nyuuk Gab Francisco Atanacio

    This is stupid. Kobe can never be traded. He is the face of this Lakers franchise in his era. It is only fitting if Kobe will RETIRE as a LAKER. Trading him would be a cheap move.

  • Normussestudillo

    If facing ultimatum the Lakers opt to choose Dwight Howard over Kobe Bryant then the Lakers will surely fail. Not only this year but years to come til the Lakers find another or similar to Kobe Bryant.


    Whaaaa? …get a clue… Howard is the future, but this can only be total, (*&^%$#@!)

  • http://twitter.com/maryimai Mary Imai

    you got this wrong. jerry did not pick kobe because he was younger than shaq. jerry picked kobe because he was kobe. he has what it takes to be a laker. determination, killer instinct, delication… if jerry was there, i dont think he would pick dwight howard over kobe. no freaking way. dwight howard does not seem to have what it takes to be a laker. not yet anyways.

  • Yul B. Moore

    Interesting theory but that won’t happen. Kobe and Dwight can play together. What Kobe is doing for Dwight will serve him well should he decide to stay a Laker. Kobe is only guilty of attempting to elevate Dwight’s mindset which is needed for him to reach the level he is capable of. All this talk about them not getting along is fueled by the need to get people to .call into the daily radio shows. it’s way overblown

  • roseducanna

    KOBE is the best player in the planet, and he is the best selfish in the planet too.If he play like MJ he can play until 2017.

  • http://www.facebook.com/charnene.smith Charnene Smith

    Keep Kobe!

  • roolthecool

    if kobe is let go, then 99 percent of lakers fan are too! :(