Dwight Howard is done playing basketball for the time being. Under normal circumstances, with any other player, that might be a relief. No more games typically means no more postgame news conferences to make more eyebrow-raising remarks.
With Howard, things are different. We all should know that by now. The Lakers were eliminated from the playoffs on Sunday, swept out by a vastly more prideful Spurs team, sending an injury-riddled All-Star team to an early summer. Showtime is over for the 2012-13 Lakers, but for Howard, the show is just beginning.
If there was any sympathy for Howard heading into Sunday’s Game 4, he did all he could to douse it. His two needless technical fouls were head-scratching. His apparent mouthing off to general manager Mitch Kupchak as he was ejected was mystifying. His postgame comments, featuring the same attitude that marked the end of his time in Orlando and his first year in Los Angeles, were sure to rub many frustrated Lakers fans the wrong way.
“It was a rocky year,” Howard told reporters. “A lot of things happened that I didn’t have any control over.”
Howard is right, to an extent. He could not have kept Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol and Steve Nash healthy. He could not have made Antawn Jamison a better individual defender. He could not transform Andrew Goudelock and Darius Morris into anything beyond D-League standouts.
There was a tone of helplessness in Howard’s remarks, though, that is rotten with a lack of accountability. True, Howard had no control over many of the things that happened to the Lakers this season. But he did have control over quite a few things. He was not some fan sitting in the last row of Staples Center, watching helplessly while her team went to shambles. He actually was playing, and toward the end of the year playing more or less healthy after battling back and shoulder issues all season.
Now we begin another offseason circus with Howard, who is an unrestricted free agent. The Lakers will make every effort to re-sign him, dangling an extra year and greater elevators in his contract than any other team can offer. In his typical fashion, Howard admitted that he is already thinking about his contract situation, in that he refuses to think about it at all.
“I’m going to step away from everything for a couple weeks and clear my head before I do or talk about anything as far as next season,” Howard said. “I think I deserve that.”
Yes, take a load off, Dwight. Sit back, put your feet up and enjoy watching the rest of the NBA playoffs like the rest of us. You were the key to one of the most dysfunctional seasons in franchise history and led the Lakers to their first loss in the first round of the playoffs since 2007. Take a rest. You deserve it.
More accurately, we all deserve a rest from hearing you talk for a while.