The Los Angeles Lakers began the 2012-13 NBA season with championship aspirations, as they boasted a starting lineup of Steve Nash, Kobe Bryant, Metta World Peace, Pau Gasol, and Dwight Howard. The Lakers got off to a slower than expected start to the year and Bryant willed the team to the playoffs before rupturing his Achilles.
After the Lakers were swept by the San Antonio Spurs in the first round of the playoffs, Howard bolted to join James Harden with the Houston Rockets and became the most hated figure in Los Angeles. One of the reasons for Howard’s departure was the alleged beef between him and Bryant, but Howard dispelled those rumors on Twitter:
we didn't beef. Since we were losing they needed a story that would sell
— Dwight Howard (@DwightHoward) July 16, 2017
So much drama surrounded the 2012-13 Lakers, whose championship aspirations turned to the desperate chase for the eighth seed in the Western Conference. Head coach Mike Brown was fired after a 1-4 start to the season and that set a clear path for Phil Jackson to return to the sidelines for the Lakers.
However, things did not quite work out that way when the Lakers offered Mike D’Antoni the head coaching job instead of waiting for Jackson to make a decision. This decision eventually led to Howard’s departure, as his preference was to be coached by Jackson.
Howard played 76 games that season despite coming off a recent back surgery that should have kept him out at least half of the season. He has never returned to the dominant force he once was with the Orlando Magic and he has struggled to adjust to the new style of play in the NBA.
The once-dominant big man signed with the Atlanta Hawks as a free agent last summer, but has since been traded to the Charlotte Hornets. Ever since leaving the bright lights of Los Angeles, Howard’s light has dimmed as he crawls to the end of his career.