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Ball Don't Lie

Dwight Howard apologizes on Twitter following his poorly-received ejection

Kelly Dwyer
Ball Don't Lie

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Dwight Howard, before perhaps his final game as a Los Angeles Laker (Getty Images)

Just when you think Dwight Howard’s petulance can’t win him any more doubters, the Los Angeles Lakers center had to go and get himself thrown out of Sunday evening’s Laker loss to the San Antonio Spurs. The Game 4 defeat was well in the bag for San Antonio even by the 10-minute mark in the third, but that was no excuse for Howard as he moaned his way to a second technical foul in what everyone in the building knew was going to be the Lakers’ final game of a terribly disappointing season.

Obviously disgusted, injured Lakers star Kobe Bryant took the moment to make his way towards the arena tunnel while on crutches to join his team on the bench following Howard’s departure, a clear statement of displeasure. Pau Gasol stayed on to work against the Spurs, the only star amongst the Lakers’ hoped-for starting five (with Bryant, Steve Nash, Howard, and Metta World Peace) to stay active until the end, and he ended his final locker room session of the season by telling reporters that “I wish he didn't get ejected so ... he would have stuck all the way through with the team.”

Howard’s response to this bad taste? He logged into Twitter dot com, and apologized in 140 characters or less.

(An @ reply shout out to Charlie Sheen. Finger on the pulse, Dwight has.)

That’s not all that Howard said following his ejection. I don’t know if it was dignity or attention-seeking that led to Howard sticking around to speak to reporters following the game, as many early ejectees use the excuse of those two technical fouls to leak out of the stadium early. Howard, to his credit, faced the cameras. Here’s what he told the scrum, as relayed by Yahoo! Sports’ Marc J. Spears:

"It's like a nightmare," Howard said after Los Angeles suffered a 103-82 defeat that swept it out of Round 1 of the playoffs. "It's like a bad dream and we couldn't wake up out of it. That's what it felt like.”

[…]

"I'm going to step away from everything for a couple of weeks," Howard said. "I'm going to clear my head before I do or talk about anything as far as next season. I think I deserve that and that's what I'm going to do."

Of course, that hasn’t stopped some general columnists who don’t pay close attention to the NBA from piling on in order to score an easy column victory at a low point.

Los Angeles Times columnist Bill Plaschke put together a piece along those lines in the wake of Game 4, begging the Lakers to decline to re-sign Dwight Howard when he becomes a free agent this summer. It’s the ultimate sports talk radio caller rant, taking the wrong end of the stick and beating around the bush with it. No specifics about how the Lakers would replace their starting center, or how they would move forward in adding players while still over the salary cap even with Howard’s salary off the book. Just, this:

A growing process? The Lakers don't need to rebuild their franchise around someone who admits his concrete is not yet dry. Howard's ejection Sunday was symbolic of a season that revealed a player who is simply not prepared to be the sort of leader that the NBA's greatest franchise requires.

The Lakers need to show the fortitude that Howard lacked Sunday and let him walk to Dallas or Houston or wherever the expectations will be lower and the pressure less.

Even with Howard, they would be mediocre next season, so why not play without him while waiting for the contractual freedom in the summer of 2014 that could put them back in the championship race.

Granted, once Bryant retires, the Lakers will never again be led by such a great closer. But you'd think they'll eventually be able to find someone actually willing to finish.

(Kobe Bryant, you’ll recall, is the great closer that led the Los Angeles Lakers to a 1-8 record in his last two second round series.)

We’ll have more on the Lakers’ future later on Monday. And after that, we promise we won’t write about this team for a long, long time.

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