The Los Angeles Lakers and Dwight Howard have had an extremely positive reunion, one that not even the most optimistic of fans could’ve seen coming.
Howard has played a huge role for this team off the bench and has provided a defensive spark that has been key in several early wins during the 2019-20 NBA season.
This was the hoped-for outcome, but not the expected one when the Lakers took a flier on Howard on a non-guaranteed deal after DeMarcus Cousins went down with a torn ACL. Howard was brought in simply as a stopgap 20 minutes a night player off the bench but has become so much more than that for this team.
Howard is now one of the most valuable pieces the Lakers have and he knows all he had to go through to get this chance.
Howard recently spoke about the sacrifice he had to make to get to the Lakers and how it’s helped him finally be in a good place, according to Fred Katz of The Athletic:
“It was a lot of hard work,” Howard said. “I had to really sacrifice everything in my life, and it got me to a good place.”
Howard also wanted to ‘outlive the lie’ about him and needed to stick to his word in order to do that:
“A lot of times, you gotta outlive the lie,” he said. “I’ve been lied on for many years about who I am as a player, person, my character. So, I just wanted to get into good shape. If I say something, I’m gonna do it. I’m gonna be that way, and (that’s) not gonna change.”
The Lakers and Howard have mutually benefited from him coming to the team with this mentality. Without him, it’s unlikely the Lakers would be as good as they are this season. And without the Lakers providing him this opportunity, it’s unlikely he ever gets another chance in this league.
Howard has completely reset his value and should he stay playing the way he is, he may actually have some real deals coming his way in 2020 NBA free agency. He’s showing that if he can stick to his work and play his role, he is still a hugely valuable player in the NBA.
Howard will hopefully continue to be a major part of what the Lakers do this season and if he is, maybe he’ll even stay beyond his current deal.