The last man to claim he was Superman in the NBA–right down the obligatory S tattoo–was Shaquille O’Neal. You may remember him: three Lakers championships, about 42 self-administered nicknames (The Big Aristotle being our favorite), and a long shadow produced by the mix of smog, SoCal sun, and Dwight Howard’s relative inferiority. That’s not to say Howard’s no good: on the contrary he’s a serious physical specimen, also equipped with S tattoo, who can run and jump as well if not better than any big on the planet. But somebody apparently filled up the San Andreas Fault with Kryptonite after O’Neal’s exile.
Howard’s arrival in LA was meant to herald a dominant future for the purple and gold, the gold part to include championship rings. Kobe has proven he can win it all even without a dominant big man, but coupled with one he was unstoppable. (As for “herald,” there’s no other word; angels in David Stern’s office expedite these megadeals.) Add a little music from Nash-ville (2-time MVP Steve came West too) and the band was supposed to jam and roll. So far they’ve just rolled over. Won 23 games, lost 26. But heading into Boston last night those wins included 3 in a row. The season isn’t over yet.