The Week That Was In All Things Dwight Howard


(photo via @BlameSanjay)

It's over. It's finally over. Last Friday at around 6 p.m. EST, having just started digging in to a three-piece meal from Popeyes (what up KD, I'm keeping it trill like you), I had to use a couple of greasy fingers to scroll Tweetdeck as news started rolling in that Dwight Howard was informing teams of his decision. On a day where I was convinced that Howard was finally ready to make a decision about whether to make a decision about making a decision, there was a sense of relief, one of those moments where you just wanted to be there to absorb all the information firsthand because the scoops were coming in by the minute.

First, the Hawks, Mavericks and Warriors were reportedly informed by Howard that they were out of the running. Then we were told that Howard had chosen Houston. Except, hold on a second, Dan Fegan — Howard's agent — told Adrian Wojnarowski that he was still deciding. And then everything stopped making sense. Lakers fans were starting to move on, Rockets fans were building a shrine for Jim Parsons, and all the while Mitch Kupchak was waiting by the phone listening to "Call Me Maybe" at a particularly low volume.

For all the jokes — most well-deserved, as SB Nation's David Roth has noted — about Howard and his indecision, the whole saga this week played out just as you'd expect from the most courted free agent in any year. A slew of meetings followed by a quiet period for a few days, and then, a decision. Well, close to that, because as we started sprinting to the finish lines, we got a few false starts there. Perhaps it was indecision on Howard's part, as some pointed out he was debating whether it was a wise decision to leave the extra money on the table from the Lakers given his back problems (again, I know athletes want to put themselves in the best position to win, which pretty much summed up LeBron's decision to go to Miami, but at the end of the day, the biggest money offer on the table holds a lot of sway, in most cases at least), or perhaps it was because we were all waiting for the final decision to come down that the minute-by-minute scramble ensued.

But with Howard, there's very little benefit of the doubt at this point, and so the final moments before the decision was finally reached summed up our entire experience with Howard these past few years, where he teetered from one choice to another, often failing to make up his mind on anything concrete and losing our trust in his ability to simply make a choice and stick to it.


There are lingering questions though. Such as what Howard ordered at his meeting with the Rockets on Sunday at the Beverly Wilshire in Los Angeles. A look at the kid's menu — because Howard would totally do that — and I'd make an educated guess that he started with the french toast before moving on to the grilled cheese sandwich and breaded chicken fingers. Or perhaps Daryl Morey got him a customized candy buffet spread. Listen, when Jim fucking Parsons is part of an NBA free agency pitch and the general manager is barred from attending a gaming championship event because of tampering rules, anything goes. Even a candy buffet.

Another question is how Howard ended up in Aspen, Colorado, during his "thinking period." I can only speculate, but I Imagine he asked someone on his management team for an aspirin after Kobe told him in so many words to put his big boy pants on, it was misheard and somehow they booked a flight to the Aspen. And while there, did he simulate an entire night's worth of games on 2K13 between the Rockets and Lakers, trying himself on both teams and seeing how the results would play out? And if he did, was it likely that he set the game on rookie mode and made sure the team with Dwight Howard won every time? And as we continue to stretch this hypothetical, if that happened, did he realize at the end of the night as the sun started to come up that it didn't help in his decision at all? He probably put on his favorite album and went to bed instead.

Aside from the pertinent questions posed above, maybe the most important one is this: Did he scroll through his Twitter mentions at 6 p.m. on Friday and have second thoughts about the Rockets when he saw this?

With this move, and many other corresponding ones to come, the Rockets have now launched (love it when a terrible pun falls in your lap) themselves into the conversation in the West. But that conversation is a lengthy one and must include the Thunder, Spurs, Grizzlies, Clippers and Warriors in no particular order. While many teams — especially in the East — will get set to send a tank to Andrew Wiggins' house come next year's draft, I can't wait to see how the West shakes out next year.

As for the Lakers, it's going to be an interesting year because they might spend a year being very uninteresting, although it's hard to imagine that, especially if Kobe returns sooner than later. A lot of cap room will become available for next year's free agent crop, and this is a franchise whose résumé doesn't need repeating. There are dark periods for any franchise, but when it comes to Los Angeles, it's hard to ever envision that going for too long. Steve Nash probably already threw this out in the trash, signing with a team he thought would give him the best chance to win a championship, and there he is again, possibly guiding another middling team in the West next year. And where to start with Mike D'Antoni? The collateral damage of that hire might still be an ongoing story.

Almost a decade ago, the Lakers traded Shaq to Miami, ending a run with Kobe that resulted in three championships and many bruised egos along the way. Today, the Lakers watched as another big man — one that leaves without a playoff win as a Laker or having even played in one with Kobe — chose to leave the franchise on his own terms. Sports is a crazy world. Even during this week, I was convinced Howard would return to Los Angeles. The Rockets were a sound choice. They're always a sound choice when Daryl Morey makes his July 1 midnight iPad pitch, no state income tax and all that, but they had never landed a free agent of this magnitude, hard as they have tried (not counting James Harden here, because it came via trade, although Morey gutted the team and accumulated cap space and draft picks for exactly that type of move). In the end, Howard made the right decision for his future. I don't know about how this impacts his brand — I don't care — but certainly, he's landed on a team that will be one of the most interesting this coming year.

So with that, I think we've finally come to the end of the Dwight Howard experience. And after that Popeyes meal was finished and the final decision was announced, I took a seven-hour nap, because we all need some rest from this whole thing.

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