BY SCOTT MORGANROTH
At long last, the Dwight Howard Soap Opera is over and it ended in Hollywood.
Superman otherwise known as Superclown has landed in the Entertainment Capital Of The World.
It took four teams, 12 players, five draft picks and countless rounds of talks with different clubs to get a deal done. The NBA may have prevented the Lakers from acquiring Chris Paul from the New Orleans Hornets since it owned the Louisiana franchise.
But the NBA did itself a favor by approving this deal. The league did all of us a favor so we didn't have to hear the endless hours of trade rumors.
Even if Superclown's future is uncertain in Los Angeles, the Lakers committed grand larceny by keeping Pau Gasol in Purple and Gold in Southern California.
Orlando sent Guard Chris Duhon and Forward Earl Clark to Los Angeles to carry Howard's bags.
The Lakers knew that to land Howard, they'd have to move future superstar Andrew Bynum, whom they've nurtured since he was 17-years old. Former Pistons Coach Doug Collins is the right person to instill discipline in the center.
Like Howard, Bynum becomes a free agent after next season and both have indicated they'll test the market.
However, I doubt Bynum will leave because he grew up an hour away in nearby New Jersey, therefore playing closer to home around friends and family is enticing enough to stay. He'll be able to get a maximum contract with the 76'ers.
The 76'ers have a good young team and are on the rise. They're a very stable organization.
To think that former Detroit Pistons Guard Arron Afflalo is the best player Orlando received in this transaction is mind boggling. But indeed this is the case.
Former 76'ers Guard Andre Iguodala will fit in nicely for the Denver Nuggets. The last player with the initials A.I. Philadelphia traded to Denver was Allen Iverson.
Expect better results with Denver Coach George Karl.
I'm sure the Nuggets have compassion for Orlando since former star Carmelo Anthony held them hostage and forced a trade to the New York Knicks for several players.
Denver made out fine landing pieces which led to the playoffs despite Anthony's departure.
It's ironic to see the Nuggets in another blockbuster trade involving a superstar.
What really happened in Orlando? Magic General Manager Rob Hennigan, 30, panicked and didn't get the best deal he could.
New Jersey offered a nice package around Center Brook Lopez and plenty of first round picks.
Instead, the Magic shipped Howard West because seeing him twice a season, once at home and once on the road was all the drama Orlando wanted to see in the regular season. Orlando wanted to avoid a duplication of the Lebron James fiasco where he could haunt them in the playoffs plus the negative story-lines four times a year.
Getting rid of Howard had to be done, but firing former Coach Stan Van Gundy was completely stupid! I repeat completely stupid!
Time will tell whether the hiring of a new coach will be the right decision. This is a tough situation for Jacque Vaughn to inherit. I wish him well.
But Van Gundy has a winning percentage of .641 and a 579-371 record. He took the Magic to an NBA Finals. That will be difficult to replace.
One thing is guaranteed, Kobe Bryant won't tolerate any controversy, waffling or drama about Howard's future! You can bet on that!
Bryant will rip Howard, 6-11, 265, apart to avoid such distractions. Despite being in Hollywood, this is one act that will draw rage, not ratings.
Howard, 26, will need hearing aides if his antics continue.
I expect to see Kobe Bryant as an NBA head coach one day. Despite the fact that many great players don't turn out to be excellent head coaches, he'll be the exception to the rule.
I saw him on the bench towards the end of the regular season in street clothes. Bryant was coaching his teammates in the huddle during timeouts as well as in the game. Bryant has a great work ethic and has been around basketball his entire life. He'll demand that from his players and will get that respect.
Howard's presence is a good test run.
The Lakers have a veteran group that will pounce on Howard. Magic Johnson will also read Howard the "Riot Act" if Howard continues to become a distraction.
Howard's lucky he's in Los Angeles to rehabilitate his image. There are championships and legends and winning can stabilize a person's psych. We'll see if it does with this clown.
If Howard ever left for his hometown of Dallas, then I'll know the guy is Scrambled Eggs. But I don't think he's dumb enough to do this. Former Lakers Forward Lamar Odom crumbled when he was traded to the Dallas Mavericks. Odom is now with the Los Angeles Clippers.
The Lakers are the Bentley of NBA franchises.
They have appeared in the NBA Finals 31 times and have won 17 titles. The Lakers still hold the NBA's longest winning streak which is also the longest in American Professional Sports History at 33 games that was set in the 1971-72 season.
I don't think Howard will commit Reputational Suicide, but I've been wrong before, and I'll be wrong again.
Thankfully, I like many others, won't have to hear anymore trade rumors with Howard.
One of my colleagues at work said the Howard to Los Angeles trade wasn't fair. He's a big Miami Heat fan and deep down inside believes that the Heat's chances of repeating took a major blow.
If Miami were to beat the Lakers in the first meeting between LeBron James and Kobe Bryant, this will improve James and Company's legacy. If the Heat were to lose, then they will have lost to a great team and the TV Ratings would be off the charts. We'll find out in June of 2013.
The new collective bargaining agreement will limit future "Superstar Alliances" which began with the Boston Celtics, continued with the Miami Heat and has now happened again in Los Angeles.
Seeking multiple Olympians on a few teams and not in small markets will be a thing of the past.
I still haven't figured out which act was worse. Is it Howard's ongoing Soap Opera, or James TV Show "The Decision?"
But I guarantee you one thing.
There will be plenty of empty seats at the Amway Center in Orlando. The Magic has a long rebuilding process which is all too familiar when there is a Lakers---Magic connection.
The Original Superman Shaquille O' Neal left the Magic through free agency and won three titles with the Lakers and the Magic received no compensation.
With Howard's departure, they'll receive next to nothing.
The Amway Center is the building that Howard "Built" then "Bolted."
Scott Morganroth can be reached at www.scottsports33.com and at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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