COMMENTARY | The Los Angeles Lakers have made a name for themselves behind the talents of great big men. From George Mikan, to Wilt Chamberlain, to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, to Shaquille O'Neal, the franchise has been fortunate to have a who's-who list of legends to fill the all-important center position.
Dwight Howard has freakish athleticism and world-class ability as the best center in today's NBA, but if he wants to be the next in line among this hallowed list, he'll have to work at it.
Based on his Twitter feed, it appears that he's prepared to do just that.
"Me and @kaj33 together. For many years to come," says one post. This stems from other reports from the man himself that he plans to work with Kareem to sharpen his skills. That's great news for the Lakers and their fans for a number of reasons.
Dwight Howard is the Best Center in the NBA
When great players work to improve, they become legends. Howard doesn't need to look any further than down the bench at his new teammate, Kobe Bryant, to understand what supreme talent and superior work ethic equate to. The five titles that Bryant owns may not be entirely because of the Black Mamba alone, but they're a testament to what hard work and talent can create when channeled together.
Howard brings a career stat line of 18.3 points, 12.3 rebounds, and 2.2 blocks per game to Los Angeles. If he gets better, which he will after working with the NBA's all-time leading scorer, then he'll walk off the court and straight into the Hall-of-Fame when his career is finished.
He'll Separate From Bynum and Join the Legends
It's funny how quickly things change -- it almost seems sacrilegious to bring up Andrew Bynum's name even though he was traded just a short while ago. But Bynum had begun to wear out his welcome with many fans in Los Angeles given his erratic behavior.
I've written before that Howard wasn't much of an upgrade in the maturity department, but the situation deserves further exploration.
Bynum eventually felt that Kareem couldn't teach him anything else as he began to come into his own. He was clearly the second-best center in the NBA in 2011-2012 and could have made a case for being No. 1.
But it was work ethic, commitment, and follow-through that were question marks throughout Bynum's career. With Howard, that's never been an issue, and he's already proving as much through his actions.
Willingness to Work Wins Out
If there is no disparity with respect to the relative maturity levels of Howard and Bynum, then the willingness to go one hundred percent in every situation gives Howard the edge as the best big for the Lakers. Working with Abdul-Jabbar will enhance his already dominant game even more.
The ironic thing with Howard is that in order to help the Lakers have a legitimate shot at an NBA title, he doesn't need to be anything more than he already is given the talent of his teammates.
Simply put, if he's willing to take a step forward, as he has indicated, then he could become the Lakers' next great big man.
In Los Angeles, that's not an easy title to come by.
Michael C. Jones is a Yahoo! Featured Contributor in Sports and a Southern California-based sports journalist and editor. You can read him at SB Nation, Bleacher Report, and Examiner.com. He also is the Editor / Founder of Sports Out West. To contact Michael, follow him on Twitter @MikeJonesTweets.