Dwight Unscripted – Howard’s official introductory press conference as a Houston Rocket was held on Saturday. To view the video on the team’s site, click here for part 1 (mostly Bill Worrell’s introduction), here for part 2, and here for part 3.
But the most candid answers from Howard on the most pressing questions about his decision, his character, and his career are to be found in his two part sit-down interview with Stephen A. Smith:
One of the more fascinating topics from part one is the difference between how Howard has been treated by past Laker greats versus how he has been treated by Rockets greats such as Olajuwon. When Smith brings up Shaq’s statements about Howard being afraid of the bright lights and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s implication that Howard had maxed out his potential, Howard counters by saying Houston welcomed him with open arms and that that Hakeem “has never said anything bad about” him. There are two ways to look at this. One is to see the prevailing storyline that Dwight just wants to be coddled, not challenged. The other is to see that Dwight, like any other person in the world, wants to work in a situation in which he will be mentored to succeed. If anything has been revealed through Dwight’s courting process, it’s that the Houston family of big men seems to encourage increasing success with each new generation, while the Laker bigs (Shaq in particular) seem afraid of having their own personal legacies outshone by a new star. On to part two:
By far the most interesting discussion of the weekend: Dwight’s definition of a “winner,” which appears to be detached from his desire to win a championship. On being a “winner,” Dwight says, “Having a ring doesn’t classify you as being a winner. I’m a winner because I’m successful in my life. I’m a winner because I’ve been in the NBA for almost ten years when the average career of an NBA player is three years. . .Patrick Ewing is a winner to me. Charles Barkley is a winner to me. Reggie Miller is a winner to me. They don’t have championships, but they’re winners because they succeeded at playing basketball in their life.”
That may be the most sensible thing a pro athlete has ever said. In (the hedonist’s version of) the game of life, getting paid millions of dollars to play a sport you love is absolute victory. But in the culture of sports, in which the words of men like Vince Lombardi and Michael Jordan are considered inspired, championships are the sole measure of success, happiness, and validation. That’s why Dwight goes on to talk about how it makes him sick to see other guys winning championships.
No doubt Howard’s statements will fuel more debate over whether he’s really a “winner.” But in a world where Derek Fisher still has more rings than Charles Barkley, Hakeem Olajuwon and LeBron James combined, maybe we should focus more on a man’s ability to play at a high level than on some magical aura of winning when determining who is a worthy franchise cornerstone.
Dream On – Apparently Dwight isn’t the only legendary center coming to Houston. The Chronicle reports that Hakeem Olajuwon is coming back as a member of the coaching staff to mentor Howard and Asik:
Olajuwon’s duties and title are being discussed, and he will spend much of the year at his home in Jordan. But he will work with Rockets interior players, as he does with big men around the NBA each offseason, as a team employee.
It also looks like the Dream has taken up blogging over at The Post Game on Yahoo Sports. He starts off with a video message to Dwight Howard that’s worth checking out.
Isaiah Canaan: Untested. Sports Guy Approved. –
Isaiah Canaan has missed Summer League so far because of a sprained ankle, but he got some major love from Bill Simmons and Chad Ford on a recent B.S. Report:
Bill Simmons: “Isaiah Canaan was one of my favorite late first-rounders in the draft. Like, I just think he’s going to be a rotation guy, and he’s going to be an Irrational Confidence guard off the bench. I’ve seen his type of player succeed before.”
Chad Ford: “Really liked Canaan. Thought that that was probably the best second round pick of the night.”
Here To Stay – The Chronicle reports that Omer Asik and Jeremy Lin aren’t going anywhere, because Dwight Howard says so, Daryl Morey agrees, and that’s that:
“When we didn’t have Omer out there last year, we (stunk),” Morey said. “I mean, we were terrible. That was where we lost games. When we had Omer out there, we were a top-10 defensive team. Now we have a defensive player of the year and Omer. That position is so important if you’re going to have a solid defense. Now we have two of the best in the league. I’m very excited.”
As he should be. And if Terrence Jones can develop into a halfway decent stretch 4, then Houston will have the personnel to match virtually any line-up in the NBA.
Good For the Soul – Ballerball.com knocked it out of the park with two comedic takes on the Dwightmare. First, a fictional list of Dwight’s contract demands, including:
7. All the monster cereals mixed together. But no BooBerry. I can’t stress that enough.
8. A login for HBO Go. My cousin’s login stopped working last week. I need to catch up on “True Blood.”
9. I get to star in the sequel to “Space Jam.” I always wanted to meet Bugs Bunny. But not Daffy Duck. He seems kinda mean.
10. My own “Pacific Rim” robot.
And second, Zomonsterbot!!!
Have a great Monday.
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