Dwight Howard Must Be ‘The Man’ for Lakers After Kobe Bryant’s Eventual Return

More of Dwight Howard is exactly what the Los Angeles Lakers need, even after Kobe Bryant comes back.

With the Black Mamba expected to be sidelined for six to nine months, Howard has instantly become "The Man" in Hollywood. Indefinitely.

The Lakers aren't just Superman's team for a game or two or 10 while Kobe nurses a sprained ankle. He's recovering from a ruptured Achilles. He might not even return in time for the start of the 2013-14 season.

Until then, the Lakers are Howard's. For the remainder of the regular season and through the playoffs (should they make it), they're his team.

And that's how it should stay. With or without Kobe.

Consider Bryant's injury a passing of the torch. He has been the face of Tinseltown for nearly two decades. He's carried this team for almost half his life. Now, it's someone else's turn. It's Howard's turn.

Not to say that the Lakers don't need Kobe, because they do. Whatever the capacity, they need him. But they need Howard more.

In Los Angeles' first game since Bryant went down, Howard propelled the Lakers to victory over the San Antonio Spurs with 26 points, 17 rebounds, three blocks and two steals on 9-of-15 shooting. The ball lived in the post (or rather, his hands) on offense, and it became evident from the opening tip that he was going to put the Lakers on his back and carry them the way Kobe has for so many years. And the way he must moving forward.

On a superteam like the Lakers, the idea of one player bearing the burden of the entire roster and city almost negates the essence of a star-studded assembly. Yet, that's not what I'm referring to. Not exactly.

As long as the Lakers are fielding a faction awash with perennial All-Stars, there should never come a time where they rely on one player to do all the work. They crossed that bridge with Kobe for most of this season, and it's left them clinging to eighth place in...

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