Dwight Howard to the Lakers, The NBA is a Comic Book
You’d have to go back to last summer to see how the puzzle pieces came together for the Dwight Howard trade. Chris Paul was actually supposed to wear purple and gold before David Stern and the NBA nixed a mutually beneficial trade between the Lakers and the New Orleans Hornets. Then, Andrew Bynum kept acting like a third-grader and started shooting 3’s, and Dwight got his coach and general manager fired in Orlando. So, by the time the Nets stopped playing a game of chicken with the Magic front office, this mega trade sending Dwight Howard to the Lakers had to happen. It was either that or six more months of the Dwight Howard Variety Hour on ESPN.
The league owned the Hornets last year and pretended there was no conflict of interest. All of the blame or the credit for Dwight’s departure goes to the NBA. Personally, I’d go with blame, but I’m not a Lakers fan. When Stern blocked the Chris Paul deal, he allowed the best point guard in the game to team up with the best dunker in the game, and we all got to see Paul’s little son make the Blake Face during the playoffs. Other than giving us one viral gem, the league publicly disrupted the game’s competitive flow. Most basketball reporters were left questioning Stern’s motives.
After blocking the Chris Paul trade, the NBA had no choice but to allow the Dwight deal this time around. They used up their meddling capital and wouldn’t be able to justify barring a second trade to the Lakers. If they made the slightest attempt, people would’ve whined about stacking the deck for future ratings. The league isn’t rigging the game, but they are pretty damn close to resembling a totalitarian regime from an Orwell novel. Stern has to look like a hypocrite since he stopped last year’s deal to preserve the NBA’s competitive balance. Well, now the Lakers have Kobe, Gasol, Nash, and Howard, and the best player left on the Magic is J.J. Redick. That may be the most lopsided transfer of power in NBA history.
Next season, the Lakers will walk to the Conference Finals. Against the Thunder, they will probably have to skip to the NBA Finals after losing one or two games, but that is only because Kevin Durant is a basketball demigod and still improving. Mike Brown will have the easiest job in all of basketball. Nash is essentially a player-coach who can run an offense by himself, Dwight is the best defensive player in the league, and Kobe is already a different animal and the same beast. Pau Gasol moves to his natural position to work the high-low, and Metta World Peace gets to defend and stop shooting that terrible outside jumper. Brown’s greatest contribution to the team may be standing on the sidelines, trying to angle the glare off of his huge bald head into the eyes of opposing players at the free-throw line.
The 76ers and the Nuggets were also involved in this trade; Philly got Andrew Bynum and Jason Richardson, and the Nuggets got Andre Iguodala. Both are respectable hauls, but neither team has the power to deal with the super-teams in either league.
In other news that nobody cares about, the Magic will stink (although getting rid of Chris Duhon is the definition of addition by subtraction). Acquiring a bunch of draft picks, Arron Afflalo, Al Harrington, Nikola Vucevic, Josh McRoberts, Christian Eyenga, and Moe Harkless makes Orlando meaningless for a few years. At least Hornets fans can watch the Saints. What can Magic fans do, watch the Orlando Predators?
I wrote an article in June about how , and teams without a trio of stars can’t seriously contend for a ring. It seems that the Lakers and the Miami Heat are trying to speed up the evolution of the game, because they both have Big 4’s. The Celtics never had the right combination of skill or health to rival Miami or the new Lakers. With so much concentrated talent, the NBA is morphing into a bipartisan system. DC or Marvel? Justice League or the Avengers? East or West? Lakers or Heat? And behind the duality, you have a big, bad villain that makes billions of dollars and is led by a pudgy boy who thinks he is Lex Luthor.
Truly great sporting drama, unless you live in New Orleans or Orlando.
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