There is no question Kobe Bryant is in the final stages of his career and there will come a time when there needs to be another leader for the Lakers.
The Lakers acquired Dwight Howard this off-season hoping he could become the face of the franchise once Bryant calls it quits. Although Howard has yet to sign an extension and he spoke to USA Today and it seemed as though he was ready to take on a leadership role with the Lakers for the foreseeable future.
“I know who (Bryant) is to this team, what he has been to this team for a long time,” Howard continued. “But there’s going to come a day where he’s going to be gone, and that’s when I have to step in and fill that void and take this team to the next level. That’s why I’m here. That’s why they wanted me here, and I’m going to do my job and my part to make sure this team gets there – and it starts with me.
“Even now, it starts with me. That’s why I come in, and I work as hard as I can every day, don’t take days off and all that stuff because I want to show these guys that I’m all about winning and I’m all about making sure this team gets to the top. That’s all we say. At the top is us. That’s where we want to be.”
Howard understands what Kobe Bryant has done for the Lakers, but is ready to take charge of the franchise once he leaves. Bryant has won five championships for the Lakers and he is looking to bring another to the franchise this season. Howard has some great shoes to fill once Bryant leaves, but it seems as though he is slowly becoming the leader everyone wants him to be.
The Lakers have been improving as a team, but if they want to become an elite squad, Howard has to elevate his game. However, Howard must also make sure his teammates are getting better, a hallmark for all the great players this league has seen. Kobe Bryant cannot play forever and even though it will be a sad day when he retires, the Lakers are hoping they don’t lose a step when Howard takes over.