Not getting along with Kobe Bryant, not wanting to run Mike D’Antoni’s system, not wanting to deal with a rabid media market.
There are many theories as to why Dwight Howard left Los Angeles for Houston, but Nick Wright, who hosts The Morning Show for SportsRadio 610 in Houston, added another to list:
“I think (the relaxed media market) has less to do with (the signing), and if we’re talking about the lifestyle of living in Houston, I think strip clubs and James Harden have more to do with it,” Wright said on The Damon Amendolara Show. “I think – and I’m being completely serious when I say that – Houston has an unbelievable strip-club scene, and James Harden, I think, (spent) five to ten percent of his salary last year, one dollar at a time, at those strip clubs.
“I think Dwight Howard looked at it and said, ‘Hey, do I want to play with Kobe Bryant, who’s going to push me every day, who’s going to demean me, who’s going to make me be greater than I necessarily want to be. Or do I want to play with James Harden, who reportedly, allegedly, supposedly pays a stripper 50 grand a year to be his girlfriend and enjoys himself?
“I know (these are things) sports fans don’t want to hear. They want to hear that these guys, the moment the season’s over, they’re back in the gym, they’re working on their game. These are 20-something-year-old, rich, single men. They want to enjoy themselves. I think that was a big part of why Dwight came here. This is a great place for a young, rich, single black man to live – and I think that has more to do with it than the fact that he’s not going to be crushed on talk radio like he would in (a market like) Philly.”
Wright didn’t stop there.
“You’ve got these morons in L.A. jumping on the Shaq bandwagon, saying, ‘He’ll do well in a small town like Houston,’” Wright said. “If Houston’s a small town, the United States evidently only has two big ones: New York and LA. Houston is the fourth-biggest city in the country.
“Assuming Dwight Howard’s not going to miss games because he’s out all night the night before – and assuming he’s still going to be as professional as you or I would be in a fun city with a lot of money – doesn’t mean you can’t have fun.”
Regardless of Howard’s reasoning, he, in theory, makes the Rockets a legitimate title contender.
But not everyone subscribes to that theory.
“There’s so many people – I can’t believe how many people want to make the argument, ‘I don’t know how much better the Rockets got. (They’re) better off without Dwight Howard,’” Wright said. “Are these people all high or all stupid?
“Is he a little (disappointing at times)? Sure. Is he flighty? Absolutely. Is he more immature than you’d like your 27-year-old franchise player to be? You bet. But he just came off the worst year of his career, and he gave you 17 (points) and 12 (rebounds). He is so clearly the best center in the NBA, and yet people want to act like he’s mediocre.
“Dwight Howard, when he’s healthy, is such a dominant defensive presence (that) your guards don’t need to play defense.”
It remains to be seen whether Howard and Harden can lead the Rockets past the likes of Oklahoma City and Miami, but the Rockets have the requisite star power to try. Precedent has shown – the 2004 Detroit Pistons notwithstanding – that to win an NBA title, you must have star players.
And now the Rockets do.
“You now have two of the 12 players that matter,” Wright said.