As of late, Dwight Howard has been in the news more often than I would love to see. If you have not heard, this is a statement Dwight has made about his ex-teammate, Chandlier Parson, leaving for Dallas in favor of a more championship ready team
” It won’t affect us at all,” Howard said, according to The Associated Press’ Jonathan Landrum Jr. “We have myself and James [Harden]. We have the best center and the best 2-guard in the game on the same team. It’s on us.” – Dwight Howard , 2014
Now before you throw the whole taken out of context thing, just remember what Dwight said about his teams when he left Orlando for L.A a couple years back.
““And I always tell people: Hey, my team in Orlando was a team full of people who nobody wanted, and I was the leader and I led that team with a smile on my face.” – Dwight Howard, 2013
Recently there have been reports about Howard and Harden eating separately and a part from the other team. There have been questions as to if Donatas Motiejunas aka D-Mo’s interview about his relationship with Howard and Harden was taken out of context. Whether or not they are true, one thing is definite – Harden and Howard but specifically Howard are on an ego trip. If let unchecked, we will see two more great players miss out on winning a championship just because they way too highly of themselves.
Let me start this rant off by saying this. To be a great athlete, in any sport, you need to know that you are good. That is where the competitive fire comes to play- knowing you are good, and yearning to be better. In basketball we have seen the greats like Lebron, Kobe, Shaq, Jordan and more make statements that imply that they are the best. But there becomes a point where you have to walk the walk. Allow me to give you a comparison.
Allen Iverson and Kobe Bryant are two of the greatest players the NBA has seen, possibly both in the top 10 players of all time. Many people forget that they were drafted in the same year. There paths met in the 2001 NBA, both players reaching the primes of their individual careers. Both players were dynamic- both possessed an incredible amount of offensive talent and great amount of poise from a young age. It was Kobe that won the battle between the two. Yes, Kobe had Shaq and Iverson had…..himself. However their match up in the final’s seem to change the course of their careers forever.
Kobe went on to win 3 more championships, 2 of those with him at the helm. Iverson on the other hand ended up in China. Now he is retired. While Kobe has learned how to walk the ever so fine line of arrogance and Leader, Iverson fell to the side of arrogance. The result was simple – retirement . Keep in mind these two players are the same age. Yet one is still the corner-stone of his team. The point is that when you start to believe that you can do it all on your own, you will find yourself on a very lonely island. This is something that is not only applicable to basketball, but life in general.
Dwight has been digging the hole he has been so adamantly digging for himself. His pouting in L.A. was embarrassing. His reasoning for leaving a team he recently took to the finals was poor, and felt that if Lebron had success, he would too. What Dwight missed is that there is a lot more to winning a championship than having the right players. Proof is that Lebron left his team for Miami, which on paper was probably the best team put together since the 90’s Bulls, and lost 2 out of 4 tries. Howard has been trying to get on the fast track to the finals ever since they lost it to L.A. His attitude has always been “It’s not me, it is all of you.” As a leader, Dwight seems to be incapable of leading by example. He probably looks at their lost to the Portland Trailblazers and believes that he did everything he could.
Dwight has been, and appears to always be a man-child. His actions are as loud as his play style. If from all the way here in Chicago I can sense a level of disparity between Howard and Harden with the rest of the team, then I can only imagine what it is like in the locker room. Whether it is his constant complaining, or his wild claims the fact remains simple- Dwight has never won anything. I’m sure he is a great guy in person, but being really nice only takes you so far.
If you watch the Portland series, you saw the gap of lack of communication throughout the entire team. In fact, the one player that played consistently was Chandler Parsons. Howard and Harden on the other hand, looked like they had better things to do. That attitude is why I can make my last statement. Howard will not win a championship in his prime. If he does, it will be off the bench of a younger team where he is no longer the primary, and it will be his own fault. They still have a pretty good team, and in theory could take the team far. Great talent goes short distances without great leadership.
The Rockets will play well during the season. Do not be surprised about to see a first round bounce for the second year in a row. Legitimate reason why? Their perimeter defense has gotten worse with Parsons gone. Ariza is a good fill in, but its like comparing coke zero and coke. Its close, but the difference is still obvious. That difference will come into play during the playoffs. Most of the teams in the West are good three-point shooting teams, and the Rocket’s have been exposed in a big way. Combine that with an inexperienced roster, a shallow roster, and Harden’s defensive handicap and you don’t have the team everybody expect them to be. Howard is going to have to do a lot of walking to back up the amount of talking he has been doing. Let’s see who will have the last laugh, Howard or Parsons. My money is on Parsons.