The dichotomy of Dwight Howard exiting to silence, while Kobe Bryant hobbled out of the tunnel to a rousing standing ovation was jarring enough. While Bryant had one of his best offensive seasons, Howard was roundly criticized for his inability to carry the Lakers offensively against San Antonio. After the Lakers elimination, the Twittersphere and Magic Johnson were merciless.
In addition to the trending hashtag #DwightHowardIsMoreUselessThan, it only took a few tweets from Johnson to gauge the pulse of Lakers Nation.
LN: Dwight with an already depleted team you couldn't afford to foul out or get kicked out. Having you on the floor … say.ly/Haa5HEZ— Earvin Magic Johnson (@MagicJohnson) April 29, 2013
LN: Dwight, I've been swept before but I never let my team down by getting kicked out of the game.— Earvin Magic Johnson (@MagicJohnson) April 29, 2013
Laker Nation: Dwight Howard that was a big No, No. Your teammates and the fans were counting on you.— Earvin Magic Johnson (@MagicJohnson) April 29, 2013
Much like Jennifer Hudson, Howard's bandwagon is lighter than ever. It’s in stark contrast to the fervor surrounding him when he was traded to Los Angeles, last August.
Howard’s market value may still earn him a max contract, but he’s fortunate Johnson owns the franchise that plays in Dodger Stadium instead of the purple and gold Staples Center organization.
Howard didn’t measure up to some lofty standards. Magic knows what it’s like to play with a Hall of Fame big man in Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Howard averaged his fewest points per game since his second season, finished 14th in Defensive Player of the Year voting and his offensive repertoire remains at an elementary level.
In July, Howard will have to decide whether an extra guaranteed $30 million dollars is worth being the black sheep of the Lakers legacy big man heritage. He’s a player that thrives on the floor when he’s happiest off of it and he’s had a miserable audition with the Lakers. Most likely, he'll choose money over love, but he is facing an uphill battle to regain the love of Laker fans.
Johnson was never a fan of the Mike D'Antoni hiring and allegedly, Howard wasn't either. D'Antoni is the godfather of the current smallball epidemic that has swept the league and Howard is the prototypical center. Johnson saved one last barb for D'Antoni.
Laker Nation: I want Coach D'Antoni to make 1 adjustment. Every team in the playoffs has made at least 1 adjustment except the @lakers.— Earvin Magic Johnson (@MagicJohnson) April 27, 2013
There is one offensive dynamo on a West Coast franchise that Johnson is fond of.
Basketball fans we have an emerging superstar in Steph Curry. He scored 22pts in the 3rd qtr and finished with 31pts… say.ly/tNQ5HF7— Earvin Magic Johnson (@MagicJohnson) April 29, 2013
You'd be remiss not to acknowledge that Curry will be a free agent in 2017, when the Lakers expect to have a gaping hole to fill at guard.