Friday was a day that SportsCenter dreams of, a day of rumors and speculation surrounding one NBA superstar that can be followed and monitored. Chances are, Twitter feeds were being refreshed at record pace as we all tried to figure out what Dwight Howard's next move was.
Howard's decision became official a little before 10:45 pm when he announced it to his 4.2 million followers on Twitter. He was leaving the Lakers and becoming a member of the Houston Rockets.
The day that led up to that decision, however, got me thinking about another superstar that had a decision to make in the summer of 2010... a decision now known simply as "The Decision." LeBron James left the Cavaliers to join the Miami Heat and made the announcement on a one-hour television special. James took a lot of heat for the way he made his decision three summers ago. Everybody found out at the exact same time, including the owner of the Cavaliers. That prompted an internet venting session by Dan Gilbert that guaranteed the people of Cleveland that the Cavaliers would win a title before the "self-proclaimed" king (Since then, the Cavs have gone 19-63, 21-45, and 24-58, while the Heat have won three Eastern Conference championships and two NBA titles). The event drew wide criticism (though did raise $2.5 million dollars for the Greenwich, CT, Boys and Girls Club. You can get behind that no matter how ridiculous you think something is).
Howard and James are two different types of players. I think James is the best player in basketball. I've heard the arguments, but I believe LeBron James at his peak is/will be better than Kobe Bryant's best. James will be the best player in the world for several years to come.
Howard averaged 17 points and 12.4 rebounds in his only season in Los Angeles. He proved to be a major distraction at times, something that he had been in Orlando as well. At his best, Howard has the potential to be the best big man in the league, but getting that potential out of him on a nightly basis when the cards are stacked against him and the team is slumping, well, that can be a different story.
Can James be a distraction? Possibly, but he's won two championships. He's a proven winner and a guy that can make a team and his teammates better. I was in awe of his ability to own the floor in the final two games of the NBA Finals this year. James wasn't only scoring, he was getting everybody involved and making his prescense known at both ends of the floor. Even in the face of adversity, LeBron still manages to keep his cool and block out the unneccessary. It's the leader that every team at every level dreams of having, but it's the leader that Howard has yet to become.
As for Friday, however, Howard handled himself with class. He didn't make anything public until he let the Lakers know personally, and then he made his announcement to the world on Twitter. No fanfare, no spectacle, just the 140-character limitations he had to let everybody know he was turning the page in his career. While the rumors and speculation went flying around him, he maintained his course and handled himself the way the Rockets are probably hoping will be a constant going forward.
James and Howard are two different types of players that announced their decisions in very different ways. Neither is wrong, but I prefer Howard's way. Right now, it's the only thing of Howard's I prefer when compared to the King.