Does Dwight Howard Need the Lakers More Than LA Needs Him?

Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant thinks that teammate Dwight Howard will ultimately decide to stay with the Lakers when his final free-agency decision is made. But if Bryant is wrong and Howard decides to move on, will the franchise or Howard be worse for wear?

In the short run, the Lakers will certainly feel the pain if Howard does bolt for greener pastures. But suggesting that one of the most successful teams in NBA history needs Howard more than Howard needs them might be disrespectful to that legacy.

If the Lakers are bigger than Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Jerry West, Wilt Chamberlain and Bryant, in what universe would Howard be greater than that sum?

In what universe is Howard even equal?

When healthy, Howard is the greatest center in the NBA today, but the word "great" takes on a whole new meaning when wearing a purple and gold uniform and manning the middle for the Lakers.

Kareem, Wilt and Shaquille O'Neal were all great centers before they played for the Lakers, but their legends were crafted in Los Angeles. 

The only member of the above trio who managed to extend their legacy after their Lakers career was over is O'Neal. Even though he did manage to win another championship with Miami as Dwyane Wade's sidekick, Shaq's career as a dominant center ended when he left Hollywood.

Howard may find similar success supporting James Harden in Houston, Dirk Nowitzki in Dallas or whomever he might play with in Atlanta, but, ironically, the Lakers are the only team in the NBA where Howard can craft his own legacy because of the players who came before him.

Lakers fans expect greatness from their centers, and while Howard doesn't measure up to Kareem, Wilt and Shaq in terms of skill or aura, he would still receive a pass from most fans because he plays center for the Lakers.

Would Howard be afforded that same respect playing in the footsteps of...

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