On Monday, the Los Angeles Lakers held their annual All-Access Event where fans get to hear from current and former Lakers while also hearing from celebrities as well as Lakers’ front office members. This year, part of the featured speakers included Lakers’ Jeanie Buss who was joined during her time by, of course, Anthony Kiedis and Flea of the Red-Hot Chili Peppers.
I could talk about that “big three” all day, but in what was seeming to be a fun and light-hearted conversation between a random trio, Buss said something very huge in reference to Dwight Howard being back on the Lakers. The three were talking about his departure and return to the Lakers, when she said this in reference to Dwight’s 2012-13 season with the team (h/t LA Times).
“I understand why he left because we hired a coach that didn’t respect his game and wasn’t going to make him, put him in a position to succeed. A player, when they become a free agent, has every right to go to where they will feel the most productive. But what was important is that we never burned the bridge.”
Jeanie Buss said she understood why Dwight Howard left the Lakers initially. “We hired a coach that didn’t respect his game and wasn’t going to put him in a position to succeed.” pic.twitter.com/EJqByP2mKQ
— L.A. Times Sports (@latimessports) March 3, 2020
Obviously the coach she is talking about is Mike D’Antoni, who was hired 11 games into the 2012-13 season after Mike Brown was fired. Once D’Antoni arrived, the Lakers only went 40-32 to finish what was supposed to be a championship season. The Lakers lost in the first round of the playoffs, as the Dwight Howard, Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol, and Steve Nash dream team did not pan out.
Dwight then left in free agency to go to the Rockets, with the Lakers having their first of six consecutive losing (emphasis on the losing) seasons starting in 2013-14. D’Antoni stayed around for that entire following season, only to get fired after the Lakers went 27-55.
To say that Dwight’s first year as a Laker was a failure would be an understatement. Lakers fans also resented him for it, as he became a target of theirs for many years following the 2012-13 season. The season can’t really be blamed completely on him though, as he and many others on the Lakers were dealing with terrible injuries all year long. And as Jeanie Buss stated, maybe the entire roster and staff wasn’t put together properly, starting with Mike D’Antoni.
A night after Lakers owner Jeanie Buss said she understood why Dwight Howard left LAL as a free agent in 2013 because, “we hired a coach (in Mike D’Antoni) that didn’t respect his game and wasn’t going to put him in a position to succeed,” Howard took the high road. pic.twitter.com/i7MEgkHMr0
— Dave McMenamin (@mcten) March 4, 2020
As seen above, Dwight is obviously past the 2012-13 season and all of the drama surrounding it. What matters at this point is that the Lakers, their fans, and Dwight have mended their relationship, with Dwight playing possibly the best basketball he has played in almost five years.