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Dwight Howard cut ties with cousin/manager. Is it a sign of maturity?

Mar 19, 2013, 6:47 PM EDT

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When Dwight Howard was drafted and moved to Orlando, his parents had his first cousin Kevin Samples go with him in a big brother role. That eventually developed into Samples being Howard’s manager. He’s a guy that was in the middle of the Dwightmare in Orlando.

Dwight Howard has now severed that business relationship, the Lakers center told Kevin Ding of the Orange County Register.

It’s a big move for Howard, it’s no small thing to fire your cousin. Or your nine-year manager. It’s a sign Howard wants to change how business is done around him, to change perceptions about him.

We’ve seen some of that change on the court — Howard isn’t demanding post touches, he’s playing pick-and-roll ball with Kobe Bryant and Steve Nash. Howard’s is taking over on the defensive end. He is finding a comfort level on the court and how to be himself with the Lakers. Ding laid it out well.

That’s how Howard could be so unflappable as he marched through the fire of his Orlando homecoming one week ago. Bryant advised Howard to be a killer, but that’s Bryant. What Howard is learning more from Bryant is how not to surrender to the fear of failure.

When Kobe isn’t being afraid to fail, he is a killer. But when Dwight isn’t being afraid to fail, he is a joy.

So Howard played his game, had his fun and got the victory in Orlando, telling hecklers “Thank you” or “Let it go” or “I’m going to get mine” depending on how he felt – not giving anyone’s hateful words or outside opinions the power to control him.

Howard is an unrestricted free agent this summer, but nobody thinks he will be anything but a Laker next year. It was never really likely, more the speculation of teams hoping it to be so. This change in management is more a sign of Howard taking control of his career. Of getting what he wants. And that is going to be staying with the Lakers and trying to win as part of that legacy.

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