So the wooing of Dwight Howard played out in typical Dwight Howard fashion.
First word leaked that he was signing with the Houston Rockets.
Then Howard announced the Los Angeles Lakers were still in the mix.
And finally, with sports anchors nationwide scratching their collective heads, Howard announced that he was, indeed, signing with the Rockets and even tweeted a photo of himself in a Rockets uniform.
Which leads to this question: does the signing of Howard make the Rockets a championship contender?
There’s no doubt Howard is the most physically gifted big man in the NBA. There’s no question he has the potential to be one of the most dominant big men of all time.
But as Howard enters his 10th season playing with his third team, at what point do you shove those “physically gifted” and “potential” titles aside?
By year 10 Hakeem Olajuwon—one of the rawest athletic talents anyone had ever seen coming out of college—had become a defensive force and developed footwork around the basket that made his offensive game unstoppable. And, in year 10, he won his first NBA title.
By year 10 Shaquille O’Neal—one of the strongest raw talents when he came out of college—was not only a capable defensive presence but also an unstoppable offensive force with a variety of power and finesse moves around the basket. And he also emerged as an adept passer. In year 10 he was winning his third NBA Finals MVP award, along with the third of his four NBA titles.
Entering his 10th season Howard isn’t anywhere near as polished as Olajuwon and O’Neal, even though he’s probably equally as talented.
Yes, he’s reached an NBA Finals, but he wasn’t able to get his Orlando Magic team that—when you think about it—wasn’t really that talented—over the top.
In Houston, Howard will play alongside James Harden—a superstar in the making.
In Houston, Howard will be surrounded by young talent.
In Houston, Howard will be tutored by a great coach in Kevin McHale.
Playing for the Rockets will finally reveal who Dwight Howard really is.
Either he will emerge—surrounded by the right personell— as a truly dominant force.
Or he will remain an overgrown—and, at times, immature—man-child who hasn’t always demonstrated the drive, desire and professionalism to be a true superstar.
Will the real Dwight Howard please step up?
Maybe he already has.