The hysteria has gotten out of hand! In order to appreciate how ridiculous all of this conjecture over the comings and goings of one Dwight Howard has gotten, we have to remember what we are really talking about.
We’re talking about picking Houston over Los Angeles. To live. To do business. To market himself as a brand. When you start with that perspective, you realize no agent would allow their player to leave the entertainment capital of the world and one of the 5 greatest global brands in professional sports for the relative obscurity of Houston. Just stop it people.
Los Angeles is the offseason headquarters of the NBA. A large number of players are here during the summer for their training. Free Agents not affiliated with the two local teams hold their meetings here. Los Angeles is the first choice of the young and wealthy.
Dwight Howard has sought out a career in front of the camera. He’s made cameos in a few films and has had some commercials. While winning championships is no doubt important to his legacy, this career possibility cannot be overlooked. If you were to list the former NBA players with meaningful acting careers, a strong connection to the Lakers becomes apparent.
Wilt Chamberlain, Kareem Abdul Jabbar, Jamaal Wilkes, Shaquille O’Neal, and Rick Fox all have had success as actors, and their Lakers connections provided access to that world. It can be argued convincingly that Shaq is more visible as a commercial pitchman now than during his playing days.
The Lakers have consistently shown the willingness to spend what it takes and have shown the acumen to acquire winning players. This, too, cannot be overlooked. The Lakers don’t tear down their rosters and rebuild, they retool their rosters while still making the playoffs. This organizational philosophy allows the team to perpetually remain a player or so away from championship contention at all times.
Since 1977 the team has appeared in 16 Finals and 19 Conference Finals. No other franchise can match that consistency. The team has a massive amount of cap space available in the summer of 2014. Unlike other franchises that often have difficulty attracting free agents and making big deals, the Lakers will have no such problem.
The last factor for Dwight is post career considerations. The Lakers have a strong track record of keeping its former players in the organizational fold. From broadcasting to coaching to the front office, former Lakers abound. The success in business of Magic Johnson, Kobe Bryant, and Shaquille O’Neal are also yet another example of the benefits associated with the team.
This flirtation with free agency is really an attempt to change the recent narrative of Howard as a spoiled, petulant athlete. When he re-signs with the Lakers, he will be re-introduced to the city as a returning hero, with endorsements and a successful rebranding in tow.
In the end, this free agent frenzy will have been great pr for the NBA, but the result will be a familiar one. The Lakers will retain Howard, make a few deals to position shooters and athletes around him, and will provide depth to the roster. While a championship this year doesn’t appear likely, the Lakers will present a competitive team.
In just 10 months we will be back here speculating on whether Lebron or Carmelo are coming to LA. Deep down we already know the answer. Outside unprecedented league intervention,The Lakers always get who they want. Remember that.