At the time, they were the overwhelming favorite to win the 2013 NBA Finals with Howard eventually joining the list of legendary Lakers centers.
However, everyone knows what happened. Nash got hurt in the second game of the season, Howard and Bryant never quite meshed, and Howard wasn’t himself in returning from a back injury. Not to mention, head coach Mike D’Antoni‘s system didn’t fit with the roster and of course, Bryant’s torn Achilles. It was the last time the Lakers made the NBA playoffs, but Howard would leave after the season, becoming one of the most despised players among Lakers fans in recent memory.
Now that Howard is returning to the Lakers for a second stint, he has had some time to reflect on that doomed season. In a Stadium interview with Shams Charania, Howard believes he should’ve waited until he was completely healthy to return:
“I just think there were two big problems, injuries and ego. What would I have done different? I would say wait until I was healthy… At times, I think wanting to be selfish cost everybody on the team.”
Howard has admitted that he was worried too much about the thoughts of everyone else at that time and rushed himself back from back surgery instead of taking his time and fully recovering. An in-season shoulder injury made things tougher for Howard, but he continued to play through it — much to his detriment especially in the eyes of the fans.
But now Howard has a chance to redeem himself with the Lakers and fanbase and he isn’t taking that lightly:
“Not too often in life you get a second chance or anything like that. This is an awesome experience” Howard said during his introductory press conference. “I’m looking forward to just being the best teammate, best person in the community, the best I can be for this franchise. This is going to be an amazing time. Six years ago doesn’t seem like a long time, but a lot of things have happened.”
It will almost surely take some time for the fans to get over Howard’s first stint, but winning cures everything in sports — and especially with the Lakers.
If Howard contributes to a potential championship team, all will be forgiven.