Dwight Howard: A Better Off-Court Relationship Would Help The Lakers

According to Ramona Shelburne of ESPN Los Angeles, Dwight Howard feels that the Lakers are lacking a solid off-court relationship.

Apparently Howard was commenting on the Clippers’ chemistry and how they “love each other and they play like it.”

So, Shelburne got the following responses, and posted them via Twitter:

Well, if it hasn’t been obvious just by watching the Lakers this season, there you have it: The Lakers are not one big happy family off the court.

No, it doesn’t take players liking each other to win, but Dwight’s right, it at least takes respect. It’s no secret that during the 2000-2002 seasons there was turmoil between the team. Kobe and Shaq were feuding, and although Shaq may have had a clique of players in his circle during that time, Kobe likely had few or none. Nonetheless, the Lakers dominated because they respected each other’s game.

However, it was much easier to watch the 2009-2010 championship Lakers teams. Everybody got along, and Kobe often called it the tightest knit group he had ever been on. Team dinners around playoff time were the norm, and during blowouts on the sidelines you would see guys–even Kobe–joking around with one another.

Great locker room guys like Derek Fisher, Lamar Odom, and Luke Walton (he may have not been great on the court, but he was a good friend) made that possible.

So who/what is the problem?

Honestly, I don’t think there’s one single guy who’s stopping this team from being a “family.” I personally don’t know any of the Lakers and haven’t been around them, so I can’t really say. But, from the outside looking in, it doesn’t seem like the players dislike each other more than they just don’t know each other well or haven’t collectively taken the time to.

Many would point to Kobe Bryant, but I don’t see him as the sole culprit, either. It’s no secret he’s antisocial (as he put it in his first Tweet), but the way I see it is he simply looks at the game of basketball from a completely professional perspective; it’s his job. If he happens to get along with his co-workers, great! If not, and there aren’t any holiday parties or BBQ get-togethers, he’s cool with that too–as long as the team is winning. Kobe Bryant, Dwight Howard

Obviously, it would be hard to say the Lakers are “winning” right now, so I’m going to agree with Dwight here.

Used to being the sole team leader, Dwight Howard is used to setting the locker room tone and being his jovial self and creating a “family” type of atmosphere. But now, with other leaders on a team with high expectations, he can’t exactly do that. Not to mention the fact that he’s on a team with other superstars who are also celebrities and have families.

Steve Nash is obviously a “glue guy” but now that his children don’t live in the same city as him, he likes spends time with them any time he isn’t required to be with the team.

All of those factors can make it extremely hard for players to bond off the court.

However, Dwight Howard seems like a person who loves life and who loves having fun both on and off the court–so too much seriousness in both aspects is obviously weighing on him and probably many of the other guys as well.

In that regard, and at this point of the season, the Lakers likely need to genuinely make the effort to bond with each other off the court.

Winning can cure a lot of things in professional sports–even feuds and incompatibility–but the fact that the Lakers aren’t winning means they should probably take another approach: Learn to like each other and get along off the court first, and then win ball games instead of trying to do it the other way around.


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