[From time to time Blazer's Edge likes to promote our readers' thought-provoking posts to the front page. We may do minor editing to clean up the original Fanpost, but the content won't change. Today, long time Bedger jscot advises his old friend Dwight Howard of all the reasons he'll look like a hero if he takes his talents to a more likeable, winning team. -- Tim]
You probably don't know me, but a few years ago I noticed you were sort of a big guy, so I paid attention to your career sometimes.
As a long-time cherished friend, Dwight, I need to talk straight. There was a time when you were popular. You've got that great smile, and people kind of felt sorry about everyone always hacking on you. Sure, you tended to get T'd up, but people thought that was just frustration over the low-post abuse you took.
I'm going to give it to you straight, Dwight. That's gone. They say you get angry, but I figure by the time you find me, you'll have cooled down, so I'm laying it on the line, dude. Your cred is down the tubes. That whole Orlando thing tanked your reputation worse than Portland tanked the end of the season. You remember how people felt sorry for you for getting T'd up? Now, they say it is your way of quitting.
And you went to L.A. You know everyone hates the Lakers, don't you? I mean everyone. Every fan north of the Grapevine, south of Irvine, East of San Bernardino, and West of Malibu hates the Lakers. They hate the fact that all the stars seem to want to go there -- and that's what you did.
People don't like losers, either, and that's what your team was. You were the great hope for the Lakers, and look what happened. Man, oh, man, this is an absolute disaster. Your PR stock made like H.M.S. Hood, mate. Under in three minutes, only three survivors. That's your reputation. Sort of like your team's playoff performance..
Remember those stupid NBA Cares ads? All anyone thinks you care about is glitz, and money, and fame. They don't even think you care about winning.
Er.... Dwight, I'm not a ref. I'm not gonna toss you for what you just said. You can't get out of this that easily, dude. You're going to hear me out. Getting tossed only gets you out of a bad situation on the court. Off court, it doesn't help. Sorry.
I've got a solution for you, Dwight. You've got money. You've had the L.A.. experience. (Want a repeat? No?) You need two things: winning, and popularity. I know how. I'm not even asking for a cut -- the best things in life are free, Dwight, and this is free advice, the best advice you'll ever hear.
Leave L.A. They ain't winning it next year, anyway. You'd still be unpopular, you'd still be a loser. Bad plan.
You want to go to a small market team that has a chance to win. Not OKC -- everyone thinks they've got a chance anyway. You want to go somewhere that you'll be the hero, a team that is built for your abilities, but isn't that great without you.
Sacramento? Not enough shooters. You need floor-spreaders. Phoenix? That would be fun, with Nash in L.A., but they are spoiled after the Nash years, and you would probably hear complaints about playing style.
Shooters, especially guys who can hit the open 3. An excellent shooting PF, so the lane is clear for you. Guys who can run, to take advantage of your blocked shots and rebounds. A PG who excels in the P&R.
I'VE GOT IT. Dwight, go to Portland. Oh, this is perfect! First, look at the team, THEN the PR.
- Aldridge can hit the midrange all day.
- The other three guys are all excellent from 3.
- Lillard is only going to get better, and he's already great on the pick & roll..
- Their defense is poor, but you'd change that and be a hero for it.
- They have some rookies that might come along, too.
- They have a lottery pick, so will be adding another young talent.
- You could contend for years. You, Aldridge, Lillard, Batum, that is serious firepower.
PR (this is where it gets really, really good, Dwight):
- They don't have cap space to give you max. You take less (like somebody in Miami). You'll make plenty in endorsements, anyway. If you play it right, you'll be a hero instead of a goat for taking less.
- You won't even talk about money until someone asks. When they do, you say, "You know, I've done really well, my family is going to be fine, I see things different now, I'm not about money. That's it." That will win a lot of fans back.
- "I think it is bad for the league when so many big stars go to the big markets. I want to do something different." Say that, Dwight, and you just became the biggest fan favorite in the league.
- "Terry Stotts is a fun coach to play for. Basketball is supposed to be a fun game. I've lost that, and I need to regain it. It's one of the things in which I've lost my way." Redemption, Dwight. A guy whose lost his way, and says so. Getting back to your roots, getting back to the game, back to being you, the guy with the smile. Everyone but the most cynical would cheer for that. Everyone likes the second-chance stories.
- Here's what Portland has, that no other team has, the reason they are perfect for you. "You know, Portland has been really, really unlucky. Walton injured. Bowie. Oden. I don't believe in a curse, but if there is, I want to break it. Those fans deserve a center and a contending team. There are great fans around the league, and some of the best are in Portland." So many people feel sorry for the Blazers with that string of bad luck. Dwight, you'd be a hero, and not just in Portland.
That's my advice, Dwight. Be a hero, win championships, and be popular again. After two years, opt out and get paid. Play like you can, and Paul Allen would give you the max. You can bet two years of your life on that.
Think about it, Dwight. Just think about it.
P.S. This advice is free, but if Paul Allen wants to give me a three month cruise on that yacht, he might be able to persuade me.