Laker fans are not completely past the disastrous season of 2012-13 — Dwight Howard came to town Sunday night at Staples and every time he touched the ball he was booed.
After the game, Howard was asked about that and said he didn’t hear it, that he “closed his ears.” Which is what my daughter tried to tell me when she was four, and it didn’t work then. It’s certainly not working for Howard, as evidence we have a video from TMZ (it’s sensational and NSFW so, of course, it’s from TMZ).
A Laker fan called Howard a female dog, to be literal, and Howard turned and challenged the guy to a fight. Which wasn’t smart, but I don’t blame him. Howard takes an unusually large amount of abuse from fans, particularly in LA, so if he wants to snap back on occasion when a fan crosses the line — and I see that as crossing the line — then it is what it is. So long as things don’t get physical.
The best move here was by the team security guard who pretty much shoved Howard back toward the locker room.
Howard and the Hawks have lost five of six after a fast start, and despite Howard scoring 19 points and adding nine rebound plus a couple of blocks, he and his teammates fell to a Lakers team getting great play from its bench (and Lou Williams in the fourth). He was frustrated, and he responded as such. The league should just let it go.
As should Lakers fans. Howard was part of the problem with the Lakers that season, he wanted to be part of what most thought would be a serious contender so badly he came back months too early from back surgery, and when he did he wasn’t effective. But scapegoating Howard for that season is a mistake, there were so, so many other problems. The biggest was Jim Buss firing Mike Brown five games into the season then eventually hiring Mike D’Antoni to coach a roster that nowhere near fit his style (I know Jerry Buss signed off from his deathbed, but this was Jim’s play). There was Steve Nash missing 32 games as his body started to break down. Pau Gasol only played in 49 and was misused by D’Antoni. Metta World Peace and Kobe Bryant were getting heavy rotation minutes despite their bodies and games starting to show some age. We could go on, but you get the idea. Howard was simply part of a perfect storm of things going wrong, not the cause.
Laker fans, you have a fun, potentially special young team to watch. Time to look forward, not back.