Perhaps the texts signify nothing more than two men who understand the rigors of a basketball season and the difficulty of recovering from back surgery reaching out to one another.
But these two texting buddies happen to be Dwight Howard and Phil Jackson, so it’s interesting to learn that, in a season suitable for the full range of emoticons, they communicating. Among the things they could discuss: 1) Jackson did not become the team’s coach when the team made a switch, 2) Howard, who had back surgery in April, has struggled to fit in, 3) the “old as [expletive] Lakers are struggling to secure the final Western Conference playoff spot, 4) the Lakers are facing a period adjustment after the death of legendary owner Jerry Buss, 5) Kobe Bryant sometimes seems to be speaking in code about Jackson and 5) the Lakers and Howard must decide whether to create a future together or part this summer.
“I’ve had people really just help me out,” Howard revealed Tuesday night (via Dave McMenamin of ESPN Los Angeles). “Guys like Phil. He texts me and he understands how it is to come off back surgery. He just said it takes a full year to recover, so you can’t beat yourself up over the things that have happened this year.”
See? Nothing more than a little commiseration. Jackson shared his thoughts about how the Lakers are using Howard with Sports Illustrated’s Jack McCallum last month. “Dwight just doesn’t get any touches,” Jackson said. “They’ve basically eliminated his assets.”
Not that Jackson wants to coach again. He told McCallum that he could see himself in more of an executive position with the Lakers. His fiancee, Jeanie Buss, conveniently runs the business side of the team; her brother Jim runs the basketball side.
But if anyone could make Dwight Howard and Kobe Bryant and the Lakers harmonize on “Kumbaya” and restore stability to the Lakers, it’s the Zen Master.