Dwight Howard reportedly wanted the Lakers to hire Phil Jackson after they fired Mike Brown early last season.
Jim Buss obviously didn’t acquiesce Howard’s request — he has wanted to put his own stamp on this organization, not give more power to his sister Jeanie — so the Lakers got swept in the first round and Howard left in free agency for the Rockets. Could this all have gone differently if Los Angeles had hired Jackson rather than Mike D’Antoni?
If Phil Jackson had been more involved with the Lakers or coaching the team, would that have affected your decision?
DH: “Well, I asked to have him as my coach earlier in the year. (pause) The best decision for me was to do what’s best for Dwight. I think this is the best thing for me. This wasn’t a decision about anybody else. I didn’t have anybody pushing me to do anything. This is what Dwight wanted.”
Putting aside Dwight referring to himself in the third person – that was an unfortunate blunder in an otherwise respectable interview you should read in full – it’s nice to see Howard discuss his coaching preferences on the record and with sincerity. The Stan Van Gundy mess in Orlando got ugly, and Howard deserved criticism for how he handled it.
But it appears Howard has grown from that experience.
I don’t think Howard would have returned to Los Angeles solely to play for Jackson, but he might have returned to a team with more cohesion, with a more enjoyable atmosphere, with a better chance of winning next season. Perhaps, Jacksons would have helped mold the Lakers into that team.
But Buss wanted to put his mark on the franchise, so he hired D’Antoni instead. Now with Howard headed to Houston, Buss will have even more of a blank canvass to make his mark.