At various points this season the Los Angeles Lakers and the Orlando Magic were in discussions to swap their star centers Andrew Bynum and Dwight Howard. Both teams were looking to move their centers for different reasons but in the end it seems that maybe they were just looking to swap headaches.
Bynum has played great for the Lakers during his six year career, when he has played that is. The major concern with Bynum going into this season was his health issues so the Lakers were willing to trade him if it meant bringing back the ultra-durable Howard.
The Magic on the other hand were just trying to keep from dropping back into mediocrity after Howard left. The Magic sought to trade him rather than let him walk away the same way Shaquille O’Neal did sixteen years ago.
But the recent situations revolving around these two centers gives us even more insight into why these two teams may have been willing to part with these two super-talented players.
Bynum has been in the news a lot lately due to his immature on-court behavior and ill-advised post-game comments while Howard has been in the news first for waffling on his decision to leave Orlando and now for his alleged attempt to have his coach dismissed.
Bynum’s selfish behavior has had a negative effect on the Lakers’ locker room but most importantly affects them on the court. Bynum was pulled from one game because he took a questionable three-pointer and has been tossed from two games because of his on-court antics.
That makes three games that Bynum has missed a large chunk of and neither one was due to an injury. No one believes that the Lakers are a better team when Bynum is on the bench so it’s safe to say that his absence from games is a potential detriment to the Lakers.
Even worse is that it seems Bynum has digressed in terms of maturity as opposed to progressing in that department.
The truth behind this though is that the safe guards surrounding Bynum are now gone. Say what you want about Phil Jackson and his coaching style, he does know how to manage personalities.
And the Lakers traded the last safe guard who could talk to Bynum and kind of reel him in and that was Derek Fisher. For years Fisher has been the calming presence and voice of reason in the Lakers’ locker room. Bynum’s antics don’t become as big of an issue with Fisher around as they are now.
Dwight Howard’s problems stem from the fact that he has never truly had those safe guards in place during his time with the Magic. Howard has been the Magic’s best player since first donning a Magic jersey back in 2004 so the only person he has ever had to listen to is his head coach.
Which isn’t saying much because the speculation is that he played a big part in getting former Magic head coach Bob Hill fired so he couldn’t have had much more respect for Stan Van Gundy after seeing that he had the power to get a coach fired.
And even Van Gundy admitted that he has always had a contentious relationship with the mercurial Howard. That won’t be a problem much longer though with Van Gundy looking to be relieved of his duties by season’s end. How will that play out with the Magic’s next coach though?
Well once is an accident but twice is a pattern. Howard won’t have much more respect for Orlando’s next coach than he had for the previous two.
And it’s a shame really. If these guys were still in their first few years in the league then their behavior would be easier to dismiss but both have been in the league over six years now and should have a better understanding of how to conduct themselves.
But sadly they don’t. And what should worry people even more is that these two are the best in the league at their position.
But the problems brought about by the actions of these two centers only serves to hurt their teams. If the Lakers and Magic continue to allow Bynum and Howard’s actions to go unresolved then they can kiss their championship aspirations goodbye.
Roosevelt Hall is an NFL Blogger for The Sport Mentalist and an NBA Blogger for The Sport Mentalist 2. He is also a Sports Reporter for Pro Sports Lives. He can be contacted at RHall_TPFB@Yahoo.com and be sure to follow him on Twitter @sportmentalist.