Dwight Howard and the Los Angeles Lakers did not end on the greatest terms when he left in 2013 NBA free agency after just one season with them.
Since their initial split, the Lakers have not made the NBA playoffs while Howard has become a journeyman. And when Howard and the Lakers came to terms on a one-year, non-guaranteed deal for the 2019-20 season, there was obviously some mixed reaction.
However, Howard has proven that his words of wanting to start over and simply help a team win have finally become actions. Through three games, Howard has been exactly what the Lakers need him to be, including a double-double game in the win against the Charlotte Hornets.
In that game, the Staples Center crowd showed endless love to Howard, cheering him on as he helped lead the Lakers to a victory. When asked about it, Howard said that all he wants to do is to help the team win and help to energize the crowd.
“I wasn’t thinking about anything but doing whatever I can to help the team win and keep the crowd energized,” Howard said. “Great things happen when you do that, so I just want to continue to do that, do whatever it takes and enjoy it.”
Howard recognized the previously tumultuous relationship between him and the fans and that it “means a lot” to be back at Staples Center getting cheers instead of boos.
“It’s great. I think myself and the fans have been through a lot together but just to be back here man, it means a lot. I’m just taking it all in,” Howard said of the home crowd in Los Angeles.
“Every second, every minute on the court is valuable and our fans enjoy when we go out there and put everything on the line, so I’m just trying to bring that energy and that effort and intensity every night.”
The Lakers look to have struck gold with Howard playing the way he is. And while Howard doesn’t need to be a double-double machine, he simply needs to bring that same energy night in and night out for this deal to have been worth it.
Howard has already played better than JaVale McGee and is being rewarded by getting more minutes. Soon, he may even take over in the starting lineup.
But for now, everyone can just sit back and enjoy one of the best versions of Howard the NBA has seen in a long time.