George Mikan, Wilt Chamberlain, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Shaquille O’Neal, and now Dwight Howard is a Laker. How do the Lakers do it? With the exception of just a very few big men, (basically Hakeem Olojuwan, Patrick Ewing, Bill Russel, Tim Duncan and David Robinson), the NBA’s best goliaths have roamed the paint for the purple and gold. Since the goddamn 1950′s the Lakers have seemed to have one of, if not the best center in the league. Wow, that Jerry West is some GM. The way he was able to finagle the great George Mikan away from the Chicago American Gears was pure genius. Wait a second, my father (Pa Pleiman) tells me that Jerry West was not always the architect of the Lakers. As a matter of fact, the former Redskins owner the late (Great) Jack Kent Cooke had as much to do with the Lakers accumulation of post-wealth as Missure West.
All jokes aside, the fact that Dwight Howard was gift wrapped and shipped to L.A. is a mystery that I cannot seem to solve. Just a month ago, the Orlando Magic thought that Brooke Lopez and draft picks were not enough compensation from Brooklyn to make a trade. At the time, I thought that they were completely correct. Why move a once-in-a-lifetime puzzle piece for a player that is very good, but might not even be the best Lopez in the NBA born on April 1st 1988 (see Robin Lopez.) I thought, “very shrewd of Orlando’s management: they aren’t going to cave to the pressure of the Smiley McShoulders (Get it? Dwight has big shoulders and smiles a lot), ESPN, The New York Post, or the billionaire Russian. They are going to make everyone squirm. KUDOS!” It seemed like a great plan, let the Dwightning Bolt accrue more and more bad press so the local fans won’t burn down the Amway Center when another Hall Of Fame center skips town. Also, everyone knows that Andrew Bynum, the league’s second-best center, is anything but beloved in Tinsletown. Keep the options open, the plates spinning, never let em’ see ya’ sweat. Once again, KUDOS Orlando Magic! So then the news hits: “Four Team Trade, Howard to L.A., Bynum and Igudola Involved”. Dwight Howard is a Laker. Andre Igudola is a Nugget. And Andrew Bynum is a 76er?!?
“Wait?! Whahappa?” And I thought the Milwaukee Bucks got hosed letting Kareem go for the grab-bag of shit that was Elmore Smith, Brian Winters, Dave Meyers and Junior Bridgeman. The trio of Darrell Imhoff, Jerry Chambers and Archie Clark, who were moved for Wilt and his magic stilt, think they’re looking pretty good. At least with Shaq, he left via free agency. And I say “at least” because if my team is going to get screwed by getting rid of a franchise player, I’d like to know that I’m being screwed and just move on. Instead, Magic fans have the pleasure of getting to know Al Harrington, Aaron Afflolo, Maurice Harkless, Josh McRoberts, Cristian Eyenga, and Nikola Vucevic. Wow, that is some list.
“Hey Dad, is that Mo Harkless!? Do ya’ think he’ll give me his autograph? Do ya’?!” I imagine that exchange happening, well that’s it, I only imagine that exchange happening. Hey, parents in Orlando, better get those Eyenga and McRoberts jerseys for your kids now, because they are gonna’ be sold out by Christmas and Hanukkah. The upside is that Orlando received five first round picks, but with Bynum in Philadelphia and Igudola going to and already playoff caliber Denver, the Magic will need Greg Popovich to make their picks matter because other than San Antonio, no one is able to come up with anything of value late in the first round, much less the second.
Sports fans don’t even need to go all the way back to Shaq to feel like the fix is in for Los Angeles. It wasn’t long ago that people lost their minds because it seemed that Pau Gasol had been nicked from the Grizzlies for what was thought to be a steal. The Lake Show unloaded one of the NBA’s great punch lines in Kwame Brown for the perennial all-star.
Looking back, Memphis also quietly acquired Pau’s brother Marc who has been invaluable for them the past two seasons. After watching Marc Gasol develop with the Spanish National Team, it seems like that trade was more balanced than it appeared.
The Dwight trade figures to never look balanced. Howard joins a loaded starting five of himself, the aforementioned Gasol, Metta World Peace F.K.A Ron Artest, Kobe Bryant and Steve Nash. The total amount of all-star appearances on that starting five is 33. Kobe has 14. Nash has 8. Dwight has 6. Pau has 4, and Metta made one appearance in 2004. Considering the lineups of some teams in the NBA, like the one here in our Nation’s Capital, that is quite a glut of talent.
So when the season begins, and Gripe Howard is healthy, the question will become: “Can Dwight be happy as a fourth or fifth option on offense”? This would not be a concern, except that he has never developed any post moves. Also, according to his presser, upon arrival in L.A., his biggest concern is being happy and having fun. Well, he looked happy. He looked like he was having fun getting his jersey from an apparently gigantic Mitch Kupchack. (That dude is huge!) Mike Brown get ready, because you are back in the “placate a diva” business. If you have trouble juggling that job while getting wins, remember that the Zen Master told Dan Patrick that if he was starting a team, the first current player he’d grab was none other than Superman II himself.