The sporting world is so often plagued by confirmation bias, in which observers -- be it fans, media members or even team officials -- are guilty of categorizing events to fit their preconceptions. Such was the case with Dwight Howard's signing with the Rockets, which for a brief moment appeared to fit the popular narrative all too well.
Howard had fully earned a reputation for waffling in his drawn-out exit from Orlando, and at a point seemed to be balking on his decision -- as reported by Sam Amick of USA Today -- to join the Rockets this summer. Shortly after Amick's initial report broke, others followed claiming that the door was still open for Howard to join the Lakers, and that his decision was anything but final. That, Howard claims, wasn't the case (via Amick's follow-up):
"I was very upset about it when all that stuff started to come out because that's not what was going on. I decided … the night before it came out, and my thinking was, 'Let me get back to L.A. and sit in front of (Lakers general manager) Mitch (Kupchak) and give the Lakers that respect.' I wanted to tell them in person.
"There was no (thought of), 'Oh man, hold up, let me think about this again.' The night before, when I had decided, I sat down with everybody – my agent, my best friend who was there, and my bodyguard, and we talked. I said this is where I want to go. I told my Dad that this is where I want to go. I said tomorrow, when I get home, we're going to talk to the Lakers. I'm going to tell the other teams on the phone, and that's what I did."
Considering the circumstances, Howard has every right to be peeved. He may have severely misplayed his hand while trying to work a trade from Orlando in 2012, but he generally kept his mouth shut and options open during his season in Los Angeles. Then, come summer, Howard deliberated over a handful of options, retreated into solitude to properly consider them and attempted to break the news to Kupchak in person.
In real time -- and based on conflicting reports rather than a conflicted decision -- Howard was again made to be a punchline. That has to be frustrating, especially after making such a clear blunder in the past and going to great lengths to avoid repeating it. More from Amick's report:
"I just didn't like the way that it happened," Howard said. "I wanted to wait as long as possible until I talked to the Lakers. I didn't want Mitch to turn on his TV or get an e-mail from somebody saying this is what Dwight did and I didn't contact him first. I wanted to give him the respect, and the Lakers the respect, in telling them before it got put out there.Say what you will about Howard's past transgressions, but he covers fairly well here. A little maturity suits him well.
"I felt like for them it wouldn't have been personal enough. They were the team that decided to take me from Orlando, so I wanted to give them that respect – especially Mitch, because that was somebody who I had conversations with all summer. I wanted to let him know personally, and to thank him for the opportunity to play for the Lakers."