Howard on Jackson: He’ll be great for me
by Sam Amick, USA TODAY Sports
LOS ANGELES — Dwight Howard has been through all this before.
The coach firings and hirings, the questions about player input and who will make the call on who comes next. It’s the same scenario the star center dealt with during his final act in Orlando.
In the wake of Mike Brown’s firing as coach, Howard was trying hard to stay in the background on Friday night, letting the resident locker room spokesman, Kobe Bryant, do the campaigning for Phil Jackson to return. Howard dodged the coaching questions as if they were elbows from a defender.
“I’m going to keep (his talks with team officials about a replacement) between me and (team officials),” Howard told reporters. “I learned my lesson last year.”
With indications that Jackson could be on his way back after his retirement in 2011, it’s clear that Howard — who was blamed for the firing of Magic coach Stan Van Gundy late last season — would be a happy man if the coach known as the “Zen master” returns to Los Angeles.
Asked if he agreed that Jackson was the greatest NBA coach of all time, Howard said he did.
“He is (the greatest), and…I think he’ll be great for me,” Howard said in an interview with USA TODAY Sports as he walked out of the Staples Center on Friday night. “But as of right now, my main thing is getting healthy and getting these guys together throughout all the scrutiny and all the stuff that we’ve been through so far — just keeping the guys together.”
Amid all the noise about the Lakers’ sluggish start and the sudden firing of Brown, the evolution of the 26-year-old Howard continues ever so quietly. Having been criticized for his handling of his exit from Orlando and scrutinized for the appropriateness of his playful personality, Howard said he’s making a concerted effort to become a better leader.
It’s a significant development regardless of who the next coach is, as Bryant, 34, is winding down his years as a player and the Lakers — who want to sign Howard when he becomes a free agent … [For more on Dwight Howard on Phil Jackson: He'll be great for me, click here.]