The addition of Dwight Howard makes the Lakers serious contenders for the next NBA Championship. They will still have to contend with the Thunder and the Heat. The presence of Howard as a shot blocker and rebounder will allow the other members of the team to have better opportunities to score.
The genius of this acquisition was that it was done without having to trade Pau Gasol. If you have read my column, then you may already know that I have sometimes been very critical of him. I still think that he should add 10 to 15 pounds of muscle, but I also know that is not going to happen. He is puny, but he is stronger than I realized. I watched him play in the Olympics, and he nearly led Spain to a victory over the USA. So, my conclusion is that Howard will allow the Lakers to reduce his minutes. If he plays 32 to 35 minutes for an extended period of time, he will be exhausted and he will not be able to play well. With Howard doing the heavy lifting, Gasol can become a better contributor.
Now that Steve Nash is also on the Lakers, they now have a Big Four. So, theoretically, they can battle either the Thunder, or the Heat, on even terms. They should just cancel the regular NBA season, and let these teams meet in a 20 game Playoff.
The XXX Olympics was a most enjoyable experience. It is wonderful to see people from many nations engaging in peaceful events. These games are certainly a healthy alternative to the wars that countries like to fight. There were so many outstanding athletes that I would be unable to list them all. However, Gabrielle Douglas exploded on the scene, and stole our hearts. Also, we were inspired by locals Allyson Felix and Carmelita Jeter, who both brought Gold back to Southern California.
Grant Hill is now a Clipper. A belated welcome to you, sir. He was one of the greatest college basketball players of all time. He had enough talent to be in the same conversation with Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant. However, he had a number of serious injuries, which interrupted the early part of his career. Miraculously, he has been nearly injury free for the past three years. He is about 40 years old now, but he plays much younger than that. With his intelligence, skill, and experience, he is likely to be a great addition to the Los Angeles sports community. By the way, he was an outstanding student at Duke, and he will always be among the classiest people that you have ever met. Mr. Hill, we are eager to cheer for you.
At the age of 19, New Orleans Hornets rookie Anthony Davis was the youngest member of the United States Olympic Basketball Team. Traveling to England must have been a wonderful experience for him. I was pleased that he witnessed the great sportsmanship displayed by Spain, after they lost the Gold Medal game to the USA. I hope that it will be something that he remembers and practices. Just two years ago, in Los Angeles, a disappointed Andrew Bynum, headed for the dressing room while taking off his shirt. A year ago, LeBron James did practically the same thing, after the Heat lost the championship game to the Celtics. Make no mistake about it, Spain played hard, and they almost won the game. They were hurting, losing always hurts, but they were noble enough to offer their congratulations to the victors. That is what Sports and Sportsmanship is supposed to be about.
Andrew Bynum has a lot of talent, but he was a high risk athlete, and I think that the Lakers did the right thing by trading him. He has a history of serious knee problems, and in addition to that he is shockingly immature. It seems that he never fully appreciated the opportunity that he had or the responsibility that went with it. He ignored many of the rules, because he just did not care to pay any attention to them. He was a reckless driver, who owned many cars, and he often parked them, in spaces reserved for Handicapped Persons. I hope the reality of his being traded will help him to grow up, so that he can be all that he should be. Being the "Big Diaper" all his life will be harder than he realizes.
Is it just me, or has anyone else noticed the changes in Kobe Bryant's behavior. In the past, when he was interviewed, he would sometimes respond with a series of nearly unintelligible grunts. He always seemed to be angry, or at least irritated. At the Olympics, he was chatting away, seemed to be in a good mood, and to be enjoying himself. He made great contributions to the team, but he did not attempt to "take over." If this is indeed the new "Kobe Bryant", it is a real pleasure to meet you.