Los Angeles Lakers center Dwight Howard knows that all of the pressure is on him after Kobe Bryant went down with a ruptured Achilles Friday night. While Dwight did well in his first game post Kobe (26 pts, 17 rbs), he has knows it will take a lot more than just one game to convince Lakers fans that he is the man to lead the franchise into these playoffs and the future.
The void left by Kobe goes beyond just his on the court play as he was also the unquestioned leader of the Lakers. If someone is to fill that void it obviously should be Dwight. He elaborated on how he has learned a lot on leadership simply by watching Kobe.
Per LA Times:
“I watched Kobe all year, I watched a lot of the things he’s done with this team,” Howard said. “He’s not one of those guys who’s going to get in the locker room and be vocal. He’s just going to do everything on the court. That’s the way he shows his leadership, just by how hard he plays, how hard he trains. Other guys are the vocal guys. I believe I can do both. I’ve been trying to do that for the whole year and now with Kobe out, I understand I have to do more and be more for this team. This is a great opportunity for me and I believe I can do it.”
Howard said he made a point of not letting his free-throw shooting get him down. It’s a strategy that he learned from Bryant.
“[Bryant] has done a great job of that and not allowing other teams to see your frustration,” Howard said. “He’s good at it. It’s just one thing that’s going to help me grow as a player. It’s not letting little things affect me, at least not showing it to the point where my teammates feel as though I’m not focused on the game.”
Dwight will need to do more on the court to really convince everyone that he is a great leader.
Leading the Lakers to the playoffs would be a good start. Then re-signing in the off-season would be the cherry on top for Lakers fans.