When the 2013 Howard free agency saga began Monday night, the Rockets and Lakers, who had desperately been trying to convince Howard to stay, emerged as the frontrunners with teams like the Dallas Mavericks and Golden State Warriors in the sweepstakes, but considered longshots.
And L.A. tried their best to get Howard to stay, including reportedly offering him his own TV program in conjunction with their deal with Time Warner Cable and through the use of celebrities including Jack Nicholson, who personally met with Howard. Los Angeles also had the advantage of being able to offer Howard nearly $30 million more than any of the other teams vying for him.
Ultimately however, it was all in vain as Howard chose to sign where Jim Parsons, star of “The Big Bang Theory”, said in a Youtube pitch, “nobody would appreciate a center more.” Of course, Parsons is not wrong. Howard in playing with the Rockets will be stepping into the shadow of Hakeem Olajuwon, one of the greatest centers of all-time.
While some thought he would remain with the Lakers, a deteriorating relationship with Kobe Bryant may have been part of the reason why Howard chose to leave. The two feuded during the regular season and as was reported by Fox Sports, Bryant reportedly told Howard that in order to win a championship, he would have to “learn how its done” and that Kobe himself could be the one to teach him.
It likely also didn’t help that the Lakers seem committed to head coach, Mike D’Antoni, of whom Howard did not exactly fit into his offensive system.
Houston, who has also been linked to talks with free agent Josh Smith, offers Howard a roster that is currently putting pieces together to be able to compete for a championship now. And with Howard’s hopes to win big, this must have hugely played into his decision for the currently titleless superstar.