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Jim Buss says Dwight Howard ‘was never really a Laker’

Aug 15, 2013, 12:04 AM EDT

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The Lakers did their due diligence in free agency this summer where Dwight Howard was concerned, getting the last word in their formal pitch after the coveted big man had met with other teams.

In the end, Howard chose to sign with the Houston Rockets — a decision that many felt was a foregone conclusion even before free agency officially began.

Howard endured a tumultuous season in Los Angeles, playing through health issues while he and the team remained highly scrutinized over their collective failure to dominate the competition as was widely expected. The fact that he chose not to return was understandable, as it was clear he didn’t enjoy his one year in Los Angeles playing under such a large spotlight.

In a recent profile Ric Bucher did on the Lakers front office for the Hollywood Reporter, Jim Buss said as much about Howard and the relationship he had with the franchise.

Jim insists he’s just following his father’s blueprint, but the Howard situation suggests he missed a page. Instead of Jim spending time with Howard, the team launched a widely derided media campaign that implored “Stay” on billboards. After Howard bolted, Jim turned on his former star, saying he wasn’t surprised or dismayed. “He was never really a Laker,” says Jim. “He was just passing through.”

Historically, All-Star caliber players have welcomed the opportunity to team with others at their level, as Howard did with Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol, and Steve Nash. That wasn’t necessarily true, however, in Howard’s case.

He clashed with Bryant over perceived work ethic and dedication to winning, pushed back against the coaching staff wanting to use him in more pick and roll situations, and consistently showed up his teammates defensively when he believed an assignment or a rotation was missed.

Howard never seemed happy in a Lakers uniform, and never seemed all that likely to re-up with them by signing a max contract this summer. The comments from Buss may seem as though they were intended as some kind of slight against Howard, and the fact that he never truly committed to the Lakers organization.

But in reality, all Buss did was present a statement of fact.

  1. ProBasketballPundit - Aug 15, 2013 at 12:31 AM

    It is mind-boggling that Dwight would push back against the coaching staff for running pick & rolls with him. Two seasons ago Dwight was the #1 scorer as the screener in pick & rolls. Nash was the #1 passer in pick & rolls. It’s not rocket science; get those two in some pick & roll sets!

  2. 00maltliquor - Aug 15, 2013 at 12:40 AM

    I wish to not see anymore D12/Lakers articles pop up. It’s over.

    Funny in like 5 years we’ll be reminded he was with the Lakers and go, “Oh yeah, he WAS with the Lakers, huh!? Forgot about that.”.
    Pretty similar to when we are reminded of Robert Parish being on the Bulls, Patrick Ewing on the Supersonics (RIP), and Hakeem Olajuwon on the Raptors.

    • kb2408 - Aug 15, 2013 at 2:11 AM

      Accept for Dwight will not be on the level of those players when it’s all said and done. But very good point, sir.

      • adamsjohn714 - Aug 15, 2013 at 4:19 AM

        I don’t except that premise.

      • adamsjohn714 - Aug 15, 2013 at 6:28 AM

        Did you thumb me down because I disagreed with you or because I was mocking you?

      • jimeejohnson - Aug 15, 2013 at 9:58 PM

        Accept, not except.

  3. ambitoos - Aug 15, 2013 at 12:45 AM

    You are right Jim. It was obvious to the fans also. I’m glad he’s gone because he just doesn’t have the heart that Lakers require. You watch, he’ll be unhappy with the Rockets within a short period of time. Wilt Chamberlin was the best Center the Lakers ever had. He had the heart of a lion. As does Kobe.

    • divan22 - Aug 15, 2013 at 1:23 AM

      “I’m glad he’s gone because he just doesn’t have the heart that Lakers require.”

      HAHA oh really? So if the breaking news said Howard was staying in LA, you’d have been upset? Stop lying to yourself.

      The fans wanted him to stay, management wanted him to stay, and the players wanted him to stay. But he’s gone and so are your title hopes.

      He had enough “heart” to carry a weak Orlando team to the Finals, remember? How far did Kobe carry the Lakers when they had a weak supporting cast from 2005-07?

      • ambitoos - Aug 15, 2013 at 4:26 PM

        I never wanted the cry baby to begin with. He didn’t have heart in Orlando, he had size. Crybaby has no heart. The Lakers would never have won a championship with that guy. Now they’re doing what I wanted from the beginning. Rebuild from scratch except Kobe. They’ve done it before and they can do it again. Even if they’re bottom dwellers for awhile.

    • asimonetti88 - Aug 15, 2013 at 12:11 PM

      “Wilt Chamberlin was the best Center the Lakers ever had.”

      Wilt was a great player, but in my opinion, Kareem played better years with the Lakers, as did Shaq. You can definitely argue that Wilt had a better career than those two, but I think Shaq and KAJ were better as Lakers.

  4. divan22 - Aug 15, 2013 at 12:52 AM

    I’m no Laker hater, but it’s been pretty entertaining seeing the spurned Lakers fans try to convince themselves that they’re somehow better off now that the NBA’s best center has left them in the dust.

    “He wasn’t championship material!” (Uh, whatever that means. LeBron wasn’t “championship material” before 2012 either, right?)

    “He was scared of the LA spotlight!” (Or he decided he’d rather play with a young, selfless superstar SG rather than an old, declining superstar SG who somehow managed to take more shots than Dwight and Pau COMBINED)

    “We don’t want that (expletive) here anyways!” (Yes, you did. Badly.)

    • 00maltliquor - Aug 15, 2013 at 1:13 AM

      Who in the world was saying LeBron wasn’t championship material? (At least for me) it was just a matter of time before he got a ring, or 2.

      And you’re funny, thinking that any Laker fans have to convince themselves. Dwight is cool to have, don’t get me wrong, but NOT as your main piece. The $$$ to be paid to him would be just way too much to deal with such a 4th qtr. liability and seeing how he just quit and folded like a lawn chair in the 1st round of the playoffs for us….noooo thanks. I’ll pass.

      • 00maltliquor - Aug 15, 2013 at 1:18 AM

        Plus he’s in a perfect situation with Harden there to bail him out. He is probably being billed as the main star and thinks he’s the main star, but we all know it’s really Harden.

        Everyone is probably just smiling and patting him on the back saying to D12, “You’re the man D12, we only go as far as you take us…”, meanwhile Dwight looks away and they all wink at Harden and give him a thumbs up and a nod.

      • spursareold - Aug 15, 2013 at 10:29 AM

        I gave you a TU on the first one, but a TD on this one. You don’t need to keep posting this repeatedly. It makes you look like you’re not even sure about your point.

    • ddarqwon - Aug 15, 2013 at 3:56 AM

      Simple truth.

    • edwardemanuelson - Aug 15, 2013 at 9:26 AM

      This.

    • davesmall1 - Aug 15, 2013 at 9:51 AM

      Bingo!

    • ranfan12 - Aug 15, 2013 at 11:46 AM

      People did the same with LeBron. If you’re a fan of a team that someone left, you’re either going to follow, or “disown” them

    • asimonetti88 - Aug 15, 2013 at 12:17 PM

      I would have preferred he stayed, but he’s gone and it’s not the end of the world.

      That said, I don’t think it’s out of the question to wonder if he couldn’t handle the spotlight. Playing in LA or New York is really a different experience. Not everyone wants that amount of attention on them. It can be overwhelming at times, I’m sure.

    • loungefly74 - Aug 16, 2013 at 4:18 PM

      would it been nice if Howard stayed? sure…when i player plays for your team, you are more apt to forgive his shortcomings and hope for the best. but he is gone. am i really heartbroken about it? no…not really. we all saw he acted and played on the court.like the article stated, he never was a Laker…and with that, i bid thee farewell. i bet most Laker fans feel the same way. i could say just about the same for Bynum.

      also…there is truth to “addition by subtraction”. sometimes, players just don’t fit with the culture. he did not.

      we will see what happens in Houston. expectations are very high…anything less than a WCF appearance…i say, you will be eating crow judging from your words.

  5. antistratfordian - Aug 15, 2013 at 1:13 AM

    Lil Buss is an amateur.

  6. 00maltliquor - Aug 15, 2013 at 1:20 AM

    Plus he’s in a perfect situation with Harden there to bail him out. He is probably being billed as the main star and thinks he’s the main star, but we all know it’s really Harden.

    Everyone is probably just smiling and patting him on the back saying to D12, “You’re the man D12, we only go as far as you take us…”, meanwhile Dwight looks away and they all wink at Harden and give him a thumbs up and a nod.

    • divan22 - Aug 15, 2013 at 1:27 AM

      Or maybe he just wanted to play with a superstar who’s not 34 years old, selfish, and coming off a torn achilles?

      Naaaah, that can’t be it!! It’s da LA spotlight and the lack of da heartz!1!!1

      • 00maltliquor - Aug 15, 2013 at 1:31 AM

        Yeah, that’s part of it. I’m not denying that. In fact I highlighted that fact in a post a while back. Don’t know what you’re getting at.

      • loungefly74 - Aug 16, 2013 at 4:22 PM

        he never wanted to be in LA.

        sounds like you are making jest of the whole “spotlight” situation. it’s true…lots of players fail to excel in the big city. ask Randy Johnson…

  7. adamsjohn714 - Aug 15, 2013 at 1:35 AM

    Seems like a lot of Howard/Lakers articles are coming out, all with stuff said from the Lakers side. They just can’t stop talking about him. Part of that is the media’s fault, but I’d guess those, “What on earth were you thinking when you signed Nick Young?” questions might end the interview immediately.

    • asimonetti88 - Aug 15, 2013 at 12:20 PM

      Sometimes NBA players and executives do interviews with the media, and in those interviews they get asked questions.

      Could they just ignore it and not give an answer? Maybe, but it’s not like the Lakers are calling up SI on their own with these quotes.

      And as long as these kinds of questions produce articles that get as many comments and hits as they do, they will continue to ask these questions.

  8. kb2408 - Aug 15, 2013 at 1:53 AM

    For, whatever reason, Dwight didn’t want to be a LAKER. And, honestly, I don’t think the LAKERS are as bitter by his decision as some make them out to be. I’m not saying they didn’t want him to stay, but if they “really” wanted him to be a LAKER, Mike D. would’ve been fired and Phil or Brian Shaw would be the coach right now. After Magic’s rookie year the LAKERS fired a coach that had just led them to the title. So, it’s not like a precedent hadn’t already been set for choosing the star player over the coach. Magic was unquestionably the face of the LAKERS and to make him happy they canned Westhead. Magic let it be known that if they didn’t fire Westhead he would demand to be traded. 99.9% of the time the franchise sides with the star player. We’ve even seen it in Orlando with Dwight and Stan V.G. Dwight wanted him gone and he was fired. The LAKERS obviously did not feel Dwight was the type of player that deserved that kind of respect and power. And it’s not like Mike D. is a HOF caliber coach. I, for one, am glad the LAKERS didn’t acquiesce to D12. He is not LAKERS material. We might struggle for a year or two, but that’s better than being tied to a wannabe franchise player that probably wouldn’t have led us to a title anyway.

    • divan22 - Aug 15, 2013 at 3:03 AM

      “…but that’s better than being tied to a wannabe franchise player that probably wouldn’t have led us to a title anyway”

      HAHA you guys are hilarious.

      Any NBA team that could afford him would offer Howard a max deal without blinking. He is ABSOLUTELY worth the max deal the Lakers offered him, and the Lakers are undoubtedly worse off in the foreseeable future because of his departure.

      STOP LYING TO YOURSELF. You’re allowed to be a fan of your team without being delusional.

      You think All-NBA, DPOY-winning centers grow on trees?

      When he’s not completely hampered by injuries, Dwight is undoubtedly the best center in the league and certainly a top 5 player.

      Career averages: 18 points (on 58% shooting) and THIRTEEN rebounds while winning 3 Defensive Player of the Year awards.

      …exactly how many guys as good as Dwight freakin’ Howard do you think there are in the NBA?

      • ddarqwon - Aug 15, 2013 at 4:00 AM

        Divan22 stop telling these guys the truth, you know that’s not what they want to hear.

      • bigmike7914 - Aug 15, 2013 at 10:28 AM

        Im a Laker fan thats been one since the days of Magic and Worthy, and I dont know why people are upset that he left, Howard is who he is mainly a defensive stopper an upper echelon rebounder, and an opportunistic scorer no more no less I hated that we traded for him seeing how he did in Orlando, Im still mad that we didn’t get or wasn’t able to hold onto Chris Paul that would have put the franchise where they needed to be. D. Howard gets upset when he doesn’t get touches, when he does he hardly ever capitalizes on them especially when he gets fouled, Im not delusional I just see it how it is, now potentially he can be great in the long run, but the running is short for him, Houston wants him to be great right now.

      • asimonetti88 - Aug 15, 2013 at 12:23 PM

        I think you’re missing the point.

        He didn’t want to be here, and so he wasn’t a good fit for this team. You can’t build a team around a player that doesn’t want to be there.

        Had he stayed it would have been awesome. He is a great player.

        But he didn’t, and it’s not like it is the end of the world. The Lakers can and will rebuild and contend again without him. Maybe not this year, but eventually.

    • antistratfordian - Aug 15, 2013 at 3:05 AM

      “…if they ‘really’ wanted him to be a LAKER, Mike D. would’ve been fired and Phil or Brian Shaw would be the coach right now.”

      And that is precisely why the Lakers are royally screwed.

  9. bifford - Aug 15, 2013 at 3:08 AM

    D12 was never a Laker, just like Jim Buss was never team president, or whatever ill fitting title he’s granted himself.

  10. jimsjam33 - Aug 15, 2013 at 3:15 AM

    Isn’t that funny . I was thinking the same thing about Jim Buss .

  11. 407magic - Aug 15, 2013 at 8:10 AM

    I “defend” d12 on showing up his teammates for not rotating on D. Isn’t that part of being a star. Let your teammates know when they mess up?

    Laker fans we told you before. D12 wanted to go to Brooklyn, Houston or Dallas. He never wanted to go to the lakers. The magic sent him there not only to get a better deal in the trade but to see him struggle along with LA. Job well done Rob Hennigan.

  12. deadeyedesign23 - Aug 15, 2013 at 8:35 AM

    Oh jesus, Jim let it go.

  13. spursareold - Aug 15, 2013 at 9:35 AM

    Right. And Jim? You were never a competent Laker managing partner, and likely never will be. Truth bomb.

  14. davesmall1 - Aug 15, 2013 at 9:53 AM

    It’ll be those upcoming Laker vs. Rocket games where the rubber meets the road. If the Rockets dominate, there will be some big lower lips in Laker land. If the Lakers dominate, there will be a loud chorus of, “We’re better off without him.”

  15. somekat - Aug 15, 2013 at 10:21 AM

    Wow, those grapes must be VERY sour

    I swear, every time “Short Buss” speaks, it sounds like whining. Certainly not his father

  16. michflaguy - Aug 15, 2013 at 11:02 AM

    The Lakers blew it on this one. I don’t care HOW they needed to do it, they need Dwight Howard more than they need Kobe for the next 5 years. This shows the immaturity of the new Buss regime.
    They will be feeling this loss for a long time…and probably the first sting will come in this year’s playoffs against the Rockets, because if they meet up, you KNOW that Howard will want to dominate them.

  17. sfsugator - Aug 15, 2013 at 12:26 PM

    jimmy buss,

    how does it feel to ruin kobe’s last years in the league by not bringing back phil and hiring a couple of bums to run the lakers. your an idiot. hand the team over to Jeanie and phillip because you are horrible.

    sincerely, laker nation

  18. truthsayer13 - Aug 15, 2013 at 2:12 PM

    What ‘never really being a Laker’ means is that Howard NEVER put winning before whining – and he couldn’t keep his stupid mouth shut! He’s mentally ten years old and playing to about 50% of his potential. He’s only dominant because it’s a weak field and there is no other centers out there doing anything right now. If he had to play against Kareem, Russel or Hakeem he would be dominated to the point of crying. He was never a Laker because he does NOT have the heart of a champion. Period.

    • divan22 - Aug 15, 2013 at 5:29 PM

      “He’s only dominant because…”

      Hahahahaha as if the reason matters.

      “If he had to play against Kareem, Russel or Hakeem…”

      …but he doesn’t.

      The very best center in the league left your team. Your team’s title hopes are now squashed because of it.

      Rationalize the ENORMOUS loss however you want. Whatever helps you sleep at night.

      • loungefly74 - Aug 16, 2013 at 4:26 PM

        ehh…the sky is not falling in LA, my friend…it hasn’t been for 30 years…i see no reason not to think otherwise. losing Howard? yeah, its a setback but you are underestimating the crown jewel of the NBA. i remember guys like you said the same thing in 2008….huh, go figure.

  19. lakerade - Aug 15, 2013 at 2:59 PM

    There will be Laker related articles as long as they continue to generate all the hits these comments exemplify. Dwight leaving is certainly still a talking point regardless of how you feel about it, but from a Lakerfan perspective there really is no lingering on his departure. Maybe he will be great, maybe that could’ve happened in LA too, but he made his choice, which is all the facts anyone has to go on.

    Personally, while his leaving is an immediate blow to the franchise, it just means that a different road must be taken, as well as awakens the front office to things they might’ve overlooked had d12 stayed. Its one set of challenges vs another, and the Lakers have shown themselves to be up to that challenge as usual.

  20. bobwsc - Aug 15, 2013 at 4:28 PM

    what is George Costanza’s dad doing in that picture?

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