Can Dwight Howard Handle Burden of Being Lakers’ Franchise After Kobe Bryant?

If Dwight Howard decides to re-sign with the Los Angeles Lakers, he'll wear purple and gold further into the future than Kobe Bryant. By extension, that means he's going to become the next face of the franchise. 

Or, at least, be forced into trying to do so. 

Throughout the praiseworthy history of this stellar organization, a franchise face has almost always been in place. George Mikan first took up the mantle, and he was followed by a litany of legends: Jerry West, Elgin Baylor, Wilt Chamberlain, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Magic Johnson, Shaquille O'Neal and Kobe above all. 

It's a natural progression, and every time the mantle is released by one retiring star, it's almost immediately picked up by the next. Kobe has a few years left in the tank—if he decides to play that long—but Dwight has more. If he returns to Tinseltown, that mantle is his to pick up. 

But does he want to? 

That, above all else, is the relevant question in Howard's upcoming free-agency saga. It's not about where he can win because, as the big man said in an interview with the Los Angeles Times' T.J. Simers, he can win anywhere. Any team with Howard in the paint is immediately a competitive one.

The problem with the Lakers' pitch is that they're focusing on what they can give to Howard, not what Howard can give to them. ESPN's Ramona Shelbourne provides us with the following passage:

Or, as Kupchak put it as he addressed the media at the end of the 2012-13 season, "We didn't spend a lot of time talking about what the city or the organization doesn't have to offer … If there's something we're lacking, I don't know what it is."

See, that's the wrong pitch. 

Howard isn't looking for a situation where everything is already in place. He wants to be the guy who fills a void and pushes a team to the next level, but he doesn't want that hole to be the one left by ...

About the Author