After the Lakers behind Dwight Howard beat Howard's former team in Orlando last night, you have to ask yourself: Isn't it time to stop demanding a scowl to prove intensity?
The Lakers 106-97 victory featured a quiet game from the Mamba and a stellar performance by Dwight. His stat line, 39 points, 16 rebounds and 3 blocks.
Howard tied his own record for free throw attempts at 39. The surprise for Orlando's coach and the joy for the Lakers was how many he made. He successfully shot 25 of those 39.
Curiously he was 16-20 when he dealt with Orlando's coach employing Hack-A-Howard and only 9 of 19 when fouled in the act. What does that mean? Who cares and as the media cliche goes, maybe he can build on it.
What he truly needs to take with him for the rest of the Lakers season is the attitude he demonstrated during the fan boos and epithets thrown at him. He engaged the detractors in actual conversation that didn't end with the words, "screw you".
He smiled, danced, blew a kiss and kept smiling. He didn't turn a deaf ear to the Orlando fans near the Lakers bench, even in the waning seconda of the Lakers win.
He staunchly defended his decision to ask for a trade out of town and pulled no punches when a Magic fan taunted Howard about still not having a ring.
As reported by OC Register's Kevin Ding sitting courtside, Dwight said, "I'll still get mine."
To others who told him he stunk, he was a bad guy and worse he alternately answered, "Thank you", "Let it go" and "I know".
While it's hard to think of Dwight Howard having Frank Sinatra's "My Way" on his iPod, it seems he took the advice of Old Blue Eyes. No Kobe Jaw for him. He was playful but emphatic. This was his night and his team fed him passes, encouraged him, praised him and all breathed a sigh of relief.
Is a return of the headband in the offing?