It’s not all about the money. That’s what athletes tell us all the time, and usually they’re lying through their teeth. It’s always about the money.
But not for the newest Houston Rocket Dwight Howard. Howard reportedly left somewhere in the neighborhood of $30 million on the table to leave the Los Angeles Lakers and play in Houston. So this time, I guess his decision wasn’t all about the money.
Not that playing in Houston doesn’t have it’s own financial benefits, Texas doesn’t have a state income tax after all. But, not to get all accountant on you, that only applies to games actually played in the Lone Star state, so it still means he could have made much more money in the long run if he stayed in L.A.
There is still a chance that Howard and his representatives pull off a sign-and-trade to get him a max deal, but that seems very unlikely with Rockets cap situation and the rumors that Houston plans to go after Josh Smith to form a big three with Howard, Smith and James Harden.
We say we want our athletes to put winning over everything else, but so often we criticize them when they do so. Everyone piled all over LeBron James when he left the Cleveland Cavaliers for the Miami Heat, but that was clearly the best choice for him if the only criteria was him putting himself in the best chance to win championships.
And that’s exactly what Howard did when he chose the Rockets over the Lakers or the Dallas Mavericks. He not only chose to play in a smaller market with less prestige, he left a boatload of cash on the table to do so. And the only reason to do that was he wants to win.
Now, just like LeBron, all the pressure is going to be on Howard to win. When you make such a public show of putting yourself on a team that you think can win, and win with you as the centerpiece, you need to get the job done. LeBron did, in a big way, now it’s Howard’s turn.
But whether he wins or loses in Houston, it still needs to be pointed out that he chose his best chance to win over the biggest contract he could sign. We always say we want athletes to care more about the wins than the dollars, and Howard does. Now he just needs to get the wins too.