In an interview with USA Today, Rockets center Dwight Howard expressed regret over not being able to tell the Lakers organization in person that he was leaving for Houston in free agency before reports leaked his decision. But Howard also explained the thinking behind leaving the iconic franchise.
"A lot of people say, 'Well, if you would've waited a couple years, then this could've been yours (with the Lakers),' And I'm like, 'In a couple years, I'm 30,'" Howard said. "I don't want to wait. I've been in the league 10 years. I don't want to wait for things to happen. I want to be aggressive, to make things happen. And I'm looking at all these young guys who are just ready, and they're missing one piece. And I'm like, 'I could be that piece, and I don't want to miss my chance.'
"James Harden doesn't come by every 10 years. It doesn't happen. It's no knock on other players who I played with, but you're talking about all these guys who are young and are going this way, going up, so I'm like, 'Man, this is a great spot for me. A great town, great organization.' They're going this way (points up)."
Even with all the mystique that came with the Lakers and their 16 titles, Howard went with the franchise that fit him now.
"Other teams have more history, but yesterday's scores don't win today's games," he said. "You've got to look at the now. What's in the now? What can we do now? Nobody cared about what I did eight years ago, they want to know what I can do now, and it's the perfect team for me."
I'm sure Lakers fans, and Kobe Bryant himself, will love to hear that "James Harden doesn't come by every ten years" thing. Nor are they going to be keen on the assertion that essentially, the franchise's best days are behind them.
Howard left the Lakers on July 5 after meeting with five teams in free agency, including the Lakers who he finished his meetings with. The Lakers traded for Howard from Orlando in August 2012 and were expected to form a super-contender combining him with Bryant, Steve Nash, and Pau Gasol. Instead the Lakers went winless in the preseason, limped out of the gate, fired Mike Brown after five days, and that set off a year of turmoil, drama, injuries and disappointment that left everyone involved frustrated.
It's a major rebuff of the Lakers that their history didn't appeal to Howard, but really, this is all a pesonal choice. He just felt more comfortable in Houston, and now is part of a locker room that may be more his style.
But this isn't going to smooth anything over with LA or its fans.