Former Laker great Kareem Abdul-Jabbar was on ESPN’s “First Take” last week. Kareem was asked to share his thoughts on the Lakers losing Dwight Howard to the Houston Rockets. Kareem gave Skip, Stephen A. and Cari and ear full. The Captain said Dwight is a nice guy but lacks a high basketball IQ and mental toughness. He also mentioned that when Andrew Bynum was with the Lakers, it was “easy” to teach him and Pau Gasol how to render Dwight ineffective.
“Dwight is an extraordinary athlete, he has incredible athletic ability, but basketball is a game where the most important muscle you use on the court is the one between your ears. Dwight’s basketball IQ is not up to speed for him to be a dominant player. He has problems at both ends of the court, he doesn’t have a go-to move. I had to prepare Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum to play against Dwight in the playoffs in 2009 for the World Championship and it was an easy job, because if you take certain things away from him he doesn’t have an answer for it. So he needs to develop some skills, at both ends of the court, that would enable him to consistently contribute to a winning effort, and he hasn’t done that.”
Dwight Howard has responded to the critique:
“Well you know, I don’t pay any attention to that stuff,” Howard said on Friday just off the floor of the Toyota Center. “I did hear about it but everybody is entitled to their own opinion. When I joined the Lakers, I was the greatest center and then when I left, I was the worst, mentally I wasn’t capable of playing center. I understand that a lot of things are said out of emotion but I would say that if he has anything to say, I’m here in Houston. We can talk man to man. That’s how I feel about it…
“I mean, it’s emotion and the fact that I left the Lakers. It is what it is,” Howard said. “I’m in a great place right now. And there’s no need for me to go back and forth with him. The one thing I would say is that he’s old enough that whatever I do, doesn’t even matter to him.
“I mean, he’s Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. If I’m Kareem, I’m like ‘why?’ Four championships, five championships, whatever (note: six). I’ve been in Airplane, did movies with Bruce Lee. I’m not worried about the young whippersnappers, you know. Just wish him good luck. But people do things different and when I’m done playing I’m going to do whatever I can to help the next generation get better.”
As a Lakers fan, I’m ready to move beyond the Dwight Howard era. I probably lie somewhere in between. I don’t think he’s the worst but he wasn’t an overall fit in LA. He never wanted to be here so he selected the situation that worked best for him. The Lakers future doesn’t hinge on DH. There’s a legacy in Los Angels and some can’t live up to that.