Will Kobe Bryant’s Plan to Extend Lakers’ Career Scare Dwight Howard Out of LA?

Any decision Dwight Howard makes about his future with the Los Angeles Lakers will have plenty to do with Kobe Bryant.

Staying in Hollywood allows him to contend next to one of the NBA's all-time greats until he hangs up his laces and passes the torch to Superman. Leaving will be interpreted as him escaping the clutches of an overly demanding, tyrannical Kobe.

Opting to sign elsewhere or deciding to stay put won't have everything to do with the Black Mamba. There will be plenty of other factors that drive him to his eventual decision.

Overwhelmed by Kobe, the expectations of Los Angeles and living up the reputable standards Laker bigs have set before him, among other things, will all aid in constructing the gateway to his potential departure. Feeling marginalized within Mike D'Antoni's offensive system will lay some of the groundwork for him to leave as well.

Money, market size and the allure of immortalizing himself with one of the most successful franchises in all of sports is going to intrigue him. No matter how much of a public relations nightmare Howard's inaugural campaign was, these are still the Lakers. Stars don't abandon them in search of championships; they flee from previous locales to win titles for them.

Oh, and some of them would even be enticed by playing next to an aging and ruptured-Achilles rehabbing Kobe. Five titles are enough for stars to look past his birthday and latest bout with mortality, Howard included. Championship pedigree, in any and all forms, is a sought-after virtue.

The lens through which Howard views Los Angeles' current state will be impacted by Kobe's decision to play. Signing on for another five years knowing that the team will be yours in one or two is far different than returning under the pretense that he plans to play out the life of your contract as well.

To complicate matters even further, Howard has to use a bes...

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