Dwight Howard was given the ultimate freedom following this past NBA season. He would be the one to decide where he wants to play, who he plays with, and who he plays for, no one else.
Would he re-sign with the Lakers, go to Dallas to play for the Mavericks, go back to his hometown Hawks, team up with Steph Curry in Oakland, or follow in the footsteps of Hakeem Olajuwon in Houston?
Dwight chose the Houston Rockets, and there is only one thing he has left to do, and that’s as the late great owner of the Oakland Raiders Al Davis said, “Just Win, Baby”.
Dwight picked James Harden, he picked the small market city of Houston, he picked the Rockets organization, and he picked Kevin McHale. He went to the place he felt he would be the most successful.
There are no more excuses, no more blaming the coach, no more blaming the GM, no more blaming his teammates.
In order to earn the respect and credibility that has essentially evaporated over the past year and a half back, Dwight has to win.
Right now, many are criticizing Howard, including Shaq for running away from the harsh LA media all the way to the more gentle Houston media. Not every player flourishes on the big stage, and Howard is one who chose to go to an easier situation. If someone wants to hold that against him, so be it.
LeBron James was a player highly scrutinized for not delivering in crunch time. It’s all anyone heard until he finally hoisted a championship with the Miami Heat. As soon as he got that title, LeBron has never been viewed the same. He won, and no one can take that away from him.
Dwight Howard now must do the same thing. Other players like Reggie Miller, Patrick Ewing, Karl Malone, Charles Barkley, and Dan Marino, just to name a few, were all great players who never won a title. They also never had the chance to hand pick a place they wanted to be.
Dwight Howard had that chance and if he has any aspirations of getting his reputation back, he has to win a ring. Doing that will silence the doubters, he will be applauded for choosing Houston, and his questionable past will be a small footnote in his career story.
Throughout the rest of his career, Dwight could win multiple MVPs, olympic gold medals, all-NBA first team selections, Defensive player of the Year awards, teammate of the year awards (Chauncey Billups won the inaugural Tyman-Stokes award this past season), make every all-star team, and that will all be great, but it won’t be nearly enough to get back to being viewed the way he desires.
Dwight Howard should have one, and only one goal during his time in Houston, and that’s “Just Win, Baby”.