Arguably the NBA’s first dominant center, George Mikan, led the Lakers franchise to its first five championships. After that, the team moved to Los Angeles, brought in Wilt Chamberlain, and continued to dominate. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar was next, followed by Shaq. All won titles, and all proved to be Hall of Famers at the center position.
Since Shaq departed, Pau Gasol has also helped elevate superstar guard Kobe Bryant to championships, but he is not a true center.
Dwight Howard is. With the 7-footer’s free agency only days away, Bryant wants to make sure the man who has the potential to be the next in a long line of Lakers greats at the position actually stays in the purple and gold in the first place.
“Those guys are hard to find, they don’t grow on trees,” Bryant said on 710 ESPN Los Angeles. “When you have someone like that with his talent level, you have to be able to keep him and lock him in with this franchise.”
Bryant said it’s important as a free agent to make the decision from a business perspective while finding the best chance to win a championship.
“It’s hard because a lot of times those two things don’t align,” he said. “With the history that this franchise has of having great centers, this would, in my opinion, be the perfect spot for him.”
Rumors have been swirling that Howard may wind up signing with Houston, joining the Rockets’ young core of stars in Jeremy Lin, James Harden and Chandler Parsons.
The perennial All-Star has also been in constant communication with fellow soon-to-be free agent Chris Paul. The two may team up with the Clippers or Atlanta Hawks and form an immediate super team.
Howard was a massive disappointment in his first year in La La Land, but that has not, apparently, turned off Bryant. Remember, the center was coming off of very real back surgery, and he still managed to average 17.1 points per game on 57.8 percent shooting while leading the league in rebounding with 12.4 per contest.
Like Bryant said, players with Howard’s ability do not grow on trees. Even if they tend to look like trees themselves.
[H/T: CBS Sports]