Kareem Abdul-Jabbar envisions smooth transition for Dwight Howard


Dwight Howard’s arrival to the Lakers doesn’t just bring promise of collecting his first NBA championship. It also gives him an opportunity to join the organization’s esteemed fraternity of centers.

That includes one of the pioneers of pro basketball (George Mikan), the highest scorer in a single game (Wilt Chamberlain), the NBA’s all-time leading scorer (Kareem Abdul-Jabbar) and one of the NBA’s most physical big men (Shaquille O’Neal). One notable member of this group believes Howard can join the club, assuming he stays with the Lakers beyond next season.

“I don’t know if he needs to change his game that much,” Abdul-Jabbar said in a phone interview with The Times. “It would be great if he has an offensive game with the Lakers where they would go to him constantly for points in the paint.”

Abdul-Jabbar refused to predict whether the Lakers would win an NBA championship next season. He insisted such a star-studded starting lineup featuring Howard, Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash and Pau Gasol will have to learn quickly how to “play together.” Yet he marveled at the Lakers’ front office performing “nothing short of a coup” this offseason.

The Lakers acquired Howard from the Orlando Magic in a four-team, 12-player trade that partly entailed trading Andrew Bynum to the Philadelphia 76ers. They signed Steve Nash partly by using a trade exception stemming from last year’s controversial Lamar Odom trade. The Lakers kept Gasol on the roster.

“It will make for a formidable team,” Abdul-Jabbar said. “Just the addition of those guys makes them contenders. I’m sure the Laker fans will have a lot of fun this season.”

“You just have to mesh their personalities and playing styles together in a smooth way,” he added. “I think they’ll be off and running.”


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