The 2012-13 NBA season for the Los Angeles Lakers was the turning point for them.
After acquiring Dwight Howard and Steve Nash to join Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol, a championship was expected.
But as is known, things never quite clicked for the team. Howard rushed back from back surgery and was never quite himself and Nash dealt with injury issues the entire season as well. When things finally began to turn around, Bryant famously tore his Achilles and the Lakers were swept out of the first round of the 2013 NBA playoffs.
Howard left in free agency that summer and the Lakers haven’t made the playoffs since, but Bryant believes it was those injuries that destroyed everything. Speaking with Arash Markazi of Los Angeles Times, Bryant spoke about the run the Lakers were on down the stretch, and believes things could’ve been different had they been healthy:
“In all fairness, the second half of the season when I tore my Achilles, we had the best record in the league,” Bryant said. “We had to make things more contentious than I wanted to, but the object is to win. Unfortunately, I tore my Achilles and that sidetracked everything, but that second half of the season there wasn’t a team in the Western Conference that wanted to play us when we were healthy. Maybe things would’ve been different with Dwight if we were healthy and had made a run. Who knows?”
The Lakers went 20-8 after the All-Star break including 7-1 in the month of April. Bryant’s torn Achilles undoubtedly changed everything as the Lakers were definitely a team no one wanted to see in the playoffs.
It’s impossible to know exactly what would’ve happened, but the Lakers making a run to at least the Western Conference Finals surely would’ve made them more attractive for Howard sticking around. Additionally, there wouldn’t have been the big question marks surrounding Bryant’s future.
When Howard left, he was public enemy No. 1 for Lakers fans who enjoyed all of his failures.
Now in Howard’s return, he is quickly endearing himself to the Lakers faithful with his energy and overall play.
Howard has the chance to completely redeem himself in the eyes of Lakers fans and if he can help bring this team another championship, everything about that first run will be forgiven.