Former Los Angeles Lakers big man Dwight Howard believes that the title he won with the Lakers in the Orlando, Fla. bubble in the 2019-20 season was the “hardest finals hands down.”
Howard even believes it was harder than the NBA Finals where he lost to Kobe Bryant and the Lakers when he was a member of the Orlando Magic.
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The 2019-20 NBA season was unlike any other in history, as the season was paused in March of 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
While the NBA eventually resumed the season, it didn’t feature all 30 teams, as the league could only have so many teams in the Orlando, Fla. bubble to finish the regular season and then play the playoffs.
Howard and the Lakers ended up earning the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference that season, and the team stormed through the playoffs.
Los Angeles beat the Portland Trail Blazers in five games in the first round before taking on the Houston Rockets. Los Angeles needed just five games to dispose of the Rockets – and then only five more to beat the Denver Nuggets in the Western Conference Finals.
The team ended up winning the title over the Miami Heat – who did take the Lakers to six games – allowing Howard to capture the first title of his NBA career.
An eight-time All-Star and three-time Defensive Player of the Year, Howard played a much different role on the 2019-20 season’s Lakers than he did with the Magic when he faced Bryant in the NBA Finals.
In the 2019-20 season, Howard appeared in 69 regular season games and made just two starts. In the postseason, he averaged 5.8 points and 4.6 rebounds per game while shooting 68.4 percent from the field.
When Howard was with Orlando, he was a perennial All-Star that was the No. 1 option on a team. Still, he doesn’t believe carrying that load was as hard as it was to play in the bubble during the pandemic.
The Lakers have not made it back to the NBA Finals since the 2019-20 season, but the team was close last season – making the Western Conference Finals.
While Howard currently isn’t in the NBA, he’s likely going to be considered for the Hall of Fame when he officially retires. The fact that he won a title in the 2019-20 season certainly furthers his case to be enshrined amongst the greatest players ever.