It's my last ever Dwight Howard rant. I promise. I've been pretty hard on the big man this year, admittedly. But...
D-12 appeared on Mike & Mike on Thursday, and of course he was asked about his time in Houston. And sadly, Howard is still blaming everybody else for his problems.
When Mike Greenberg asked Howard, "Do you feel they didn't give you enough of a role in the offense in Houston?" The big man continued to throw the Rockets under the bus, replying:
"No doubt. I know what I'm capable of and I know what I can bring to a team. It's not like I came in asking for the ball on every possession. But I don't want anybody to think that I was a selfish-type of player, but I know to win, you have to have some sort of inside attack."
Unfortunately for Howard, nothing he can say now could really make anyone not think he was a selfish player. That reputation, if it wasn't there for anyone already, was cemented when Howard admitted (and was backed up by teammate Jason Terry) to simply not trying for large chunks of the past year when he found out he wasn't going to get his post ups and his way. If that's not the definition of a selfish player, I'm not sure what is.
It also shows an almost painful lack of awareness on Howard's part. Had he been more willing to do things the Rockets wanted him to do at a full 100 percent -- rebound, protect the rim with ferocity, run the dang pick and roll already -- we might not be having any of these conversations. In fact, had he not loafed through half the year, he very well could still be donning Rockets red.
The Rockets still don't win a title with a fully-committed Howard, but I guarantee they finish higher than an eighth seed. Remember, Houston was just three games back of the fifth spot in the West. You think a totally bought-in Howard doesn't get them another 3-4 victories?
Howard is right that you do need some type of inside presence, but we all know it's just not a post-up league anymore. And even if it was, Howard's no longer very good at it anyway. Had he been more willing to become the inside presence the team needed instead of just the one he wanted to be for himself, the entire fortunes of a franchise could have been swayed. The Rockets likely become a more attractive top-line free agent destination if they finish with a better record and have two top players giving their all.
Howard also discussed the chemistry between him and James Harden.
"It wasn't as good as it needed to be for us to succeed, but looking back on it, there's really nothing that we can do about it now. But for myself and the Rockets, we have to all move on from it and let that chapter of our lives pass."
And while none of that is technically wrong, what Howard fails to mention (if he even realizes it) is that what we know now is that he was the main cause of the locker room riff in Houston this season.
Be the change you want to see. If you feel your teammates are playing selfish, set an example by playing selfless. You're a "superstar" and the highest-paid Rocket, take advantage of that opportunity to lead. Howard had a chance to define his career in Houston by doing whatever it takes. Instead, he's finishing up looking more like a journeyman. He's on his fourth team, his burned his third bridge, and his reputation takes a hit each and every time.
Many teams scoffed at his salary demands in free agency, and it took his hometown Hawks to pony up for something acceptable.
We know Howard wasn't all bad in Houston. He did wonderful things for the community, was great with the fans and had two dynamite postseasons when he was the best Rocket on the floor. But it all ended in a forgettable final year that sees Howard still complaining about his touches even after he's left town.
Have fun, Atlanta.