Finally, if the Lakers really wanted the glitter-obsessed Howard, they would have sold him with Hollywood, bringing in some of their courtside heavy hitters to close the deal. The problem was, the surprisingly Hollywood fans didn't want Howard either, and that reportedly includes Jack Nicholson.
The Lakers have won 16 championships on backs much broader than the one adorned with No. 12, with a winning ethic much more serious than the one showed by a guy who laughed and joked even after losses, with leaders who acted like leaders.
Howard was not that guy. He knows it, the Lakers know it, and it was confirmed to the world during an exit news conference in which he whined about the tough Los Angeles fans and heavy Lakers pressure.
So what happens now? Patience happens now. To frame this as a big loss for the Lakers is hugely wrong. To think of this as an ending ignores the possibilities that are just beginning.
The Lakers will enter next season led by a limping Bryant and a nine-lives Pau Gasol, which means they will not contend for a championship. But guess what? Even with Howard, they were not contending for a championship next season.
This is all about 2014, and the team now having enough cap space to build a team around a potentially star-studded free agency class led by LeBron James. This is all about the Lakers now having the potential to tap into a 2014 draft class with at least five guys who would have been No. 1 picks this season.
The wait between championships in the Shaq-Kobe era and Kobe-Pau era was seven years. This next pause won't be nearly as long, and a lot shorter than if Howard had remained.
Sometimes you have to lose a bit of yourself to find yourself. The Lakers are about 7 feet shorter today, and their ceiling is again limitless.
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