After winning an NBA championship with the Los Angeles Lakers during the 2019-20 season, Dwight Howard returned last season for his third stint with the team.
Unfortunately, he showed some real signs of decline, and former Lakers head coach Frank Vogel played him inconsistently.
At one point, Kurt Rambis, a member of the Lakers’ front office, had some poignant words for Howard that hit him hard.
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Years ago, Howard was the NBA’s most dominant force on the defensive end. He led the league in blocked shots per game twice and rebounds per game five times, which led to him being named Defensive Player of the Year three years in a row.
Although the Orlando Magic didn’t have a whole lot of talent, Howard led them to the 2009 NBA Finals, where they lost decisively to the Kobe Bryant-led Lakers.
Three years later, Howard was traded to L.A. and teamed up with the Black Mamba, and it was thought Los Angeles had just assembled the league’s newest superteam.
But it stumbled and got swept in the first round of the 2013 NBA Playoffs after a massive rash of injuries, and Howard left in free agency shortly afterward, as he was made into the scapegoat for the squad’s failures.
He bounced around the NBA for the next several years, as he had some well-publicized difficulties getting along with superstar teammates such as Bryant and James Harden.
When Howard returned to the Lakers three years ago, many were skeptical he could be a positive asset for them. But he accepted a much diminished bench role, cheered for his teammates when he wasn’t in the game and stuck to the role Vogel asked him to play.
The center’s rebounding, shot-blocking skills and ability to get easy baskets helped the Purple and Gold return to the top of the basketball world.
Last season, however, it was clear that his ability to defend, protect the rim and score had clearly eroded.
Howard is currently still a free agent, and it appears he is seriously contemplating a new career as a WWE wrestler if another NBA team doesn’t pick him up.