ATL is a segment where we speak on the biggest news going on around the league whether it’s a quote, roster transaction or highlight. This week we tackle Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s comments on Dwight Howard.
In an interview with ESPN’s First Take Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, six-time NBA champion who spent the latter end of his career with the Los Angeles Lakers where he won five of his rings had this to say about Dwight Howard:
When the Lakers signed Dwight they had very high hopes for what he could contribute to the team and you know Dwight is an extraordinary athlete and has incredible athletic ability, but basketball is a game where the most important muscle that you use on the court is the one between your ears. Dwight’s basketball IQ is not up to speed for him to be a dominate player. He has problems at both ends of the floor and he doesn’t have a go-to move.
After hearing the player whom I think is the second best basketball player of all-time behind Michael Jordan say these words I have to wonder if we’ve been watching the same basketball since Dwight Howard was drafted first overall in the 2004 NBA Draft. I’d assume Jabbar’s comment stem from Howard’s lone season where he spent the season resembling a shell of his old self. The old self that won three consecutive Defensive Player of the Year awards.
To be fair, Howard was pretty mediocre during the first half of the season as he fought a lingering back injury and torn labrum, but he stuck it out and looked better the longer the season went on. If the Hall of Fame center is going to critique that then fine. If he wants to speak on Howard’s shortcomings on the offensive end that’s fine also. But the notion that Howard doesn’t have the IQ to be dominate is ludicrous.
Oh how quickly do we forget. From 2006 to the 2010-11 season no one besides Howard averaged 20 points, 10 rebounds, two blocks while posting a PER of 20 or higher over that time. Isn’t that dominant. And those numbers don’t even include Howard’s effect on the defense. In those years all of Howard’s teams except for one (came in at 11) were top ten defense with three appearing in the top 3.
It’s not like Dwight was playing alongside defenders that lend to that like a Marc Gasol has with Mike Conley and Tony Allen. The year the Orlando Magic posted the best defensive rating in the NBA, the players that played beside Howard in the starting lineup were Rashard Lewis, Hedo Turkoglu, Courtney Lee and Jameer Nelson. He was that defense.
And isn’t Howard’s 2010-11 postseason considered dominating. There isn’t a center in the NBA that could average 27 points and 15 rebounds through the course of five games. Those were Howard’s numbers against the Atlanta Hawks.
What’s happening here is that Jabbar’s Laker pride is clouding his sense of judgment. It happens to the best of us at times. I’ve seen countless Laker fans dismiss what Howard did last season and profess that he was “never a Laker”, doesn’t fit into the “Laker spirit,etc. Even the great Jerry West commented this summer saying that Howard “was never really a Laker”. What does that even mean?
Bitter may be the word to use for Kareem’s comment and everyone else. If this kid stays instead of choosing the better path for his career, he’s “the next best Laker great” alongside Shaquille O’Neal, Wilt Chamberlain and the other all-timers who spent time in LA. Instead he’s just the kid that can’t be dominate.
They can talk about how good (or bad) Howard is, but they’re seemingly placing the blame on D12 for the Lakers lost season. One that included firing the head coach less than ten games into the season, spiting over the most celebrated coach of all-time and injuries that kept the starting five from ever playing together.
If the Lakers brass and fans felt this way 15 months ago they could’ve avoided this entire mis-step.
Here is the 14-minute interview with Abdul-Jabbar, Skip Bayless and Stephen A. Smith below: