Dwight Howard had been Super Man to this point in his career. The superhero loving big man quickly learned that he would no longer be using that moniker as a member of the Houston Rockets after being introduced to the fans by the team on Saturday. Dwight Howard will now be known as Rocket Man.
Rockets broadcaster Bill Worrell has been calling the team’s games for a long, long time. Now he is the one picking the nicknames of the players he announces for as well. “He’s not Superman anymore. He’s Rocket Man now,” Worrell said as he introduced Howard to the public as a member of the Houston Rockets for the first time.
Howard then took the stage, while his new teammates, coach Kevin McHale and owner Leslie Alexander playfully repeated the new nickname. Rocket Man Dwight Howard wore a smile on his face that he could not hide, happiness we didn’t see from him during his time in LA.
He felt as if his time in and departure from LA were misunderstood by the fans who openly spoke negatively about the star in the aftermath of his decision to leave. “I don’t think people understood the fact that I got traded to L.A., and now I had a chance to really choose my own destiny, and this is the place where I chose and I’m happy about it.”
Rocket Man also says “it means a lot to me just to have a fresh start and have an opportunity to write my own story.”
Writing his own story will be much easier in Houston than it would have been in LA. Howard instantly became Rocket Man by signing the four year contract worth $88 million. He is the guy here, the clear leader of the team and the force that will drive it as far as he can take them. While on the Lakers, he was continually trying to escape the shadow of Kobe Bryant while being crushed under the pressure that comes with playing for one of the NBA’s most storied franchises.
Modesty was shown in his welcome to the team introduction event on Saturday that showed Howard is notwhen it comes to stoking a media fire. When asked about whether or not a championship was the goal for this team, Howard did not predict the 8 plus championships James cockily said his Heat would win after his introduction to the Miami fans.
Instead Dwight ‘Rocket Man’ Howard said that “I am not gonna get up here and say we’re gonna we five championships. I am not gonna do that. But I think if we really dedicate ourselves and sacrifice everything we got for a championship, at the end of the season, we should be holding up the trophy.”
General Manager Daryl Morey also sounded hopeful that his team will be in the mix for a title by the end of next season. “I think it absolutely gives us a chance,” he said. “What you do this job for is to have a chance. The reality is five to seven teams have a chance any given year. The way it is in this league, you’ve got to have multiple All-Stars, you generally have to have dominant top players and we have two guys that we think are in the top 10 in the league in James and Dwight.”
Also optimistic of the team’s future was owner Leslie Alexander, who stated that “Dwight recognizes that his boyhood dreams will come true as a Rocket.”
Dwight Howard did not take long to embolden the hopes of a team that already made the playoffs without him last season. If he can get back to enjoying basketball and playing at the high level he is capable of, there is no telling how far Rocket Man can take this Houston bunch.
Follow me on Twitter @CharlieGille
Senior Sports Editor
The Guardian Express