The Rockets introduced their newest member, All-Star center Dwight Howard, at a press conference in Houston on Saturday.
“Dwight is the biggest free agent acquisition in the history of the Rockets,” owner Leslie Alexander said in a statement. “His addition puts us in contention. This is good for the city and especially the fans. Fans are going to have a great time this year. This team will be tremendous fun to watch.”
Howard left the Lakers after one season to ink a four-year maximum contract worth $88 million with the Rockets. He will wear No. 12, just as he did in Orlando and L.A.
“I’m just very excited to be here," Howard said in a statement. "Leslie and everyone at the Rockets have been great to me so far. This is very special. Words really can’t explain how I feel about being here. It is a fresh start, a clean slate. I am looking forward to doing it in Houston with these beautiful fans behind me. I think it is going to be great. I am looking forward to embracing this city and giving them everything I got."
The Rockets went all out to introduce Howard, dubbing him "Rocketman" instead of "Superman" and playing a video montage -- shown below -- to put his signing in perspective.
"The future of the NBA resides in H-Town," the video's narrator declares. "As older teams fade, the Rockets will rise. A new age has begun."
The video includes highlights of Rockets past and present, hyping Alexander, GM Daryl Morey, coach Kevin McHale and a roster that includes Howard, James Harden, Chandler Parsons, Omer Asik and Jeremy Lin.
"A winning owner voted best in the NBA who will stop at nothing to bring back another championship to this city," the video continued. "An organization recognized globally. An innovative GM whose use of analytics has changed the NBA. A coach with championship pedigree. And an arsenal of young players primed for a title run. Then and now, one thing remains the same, winning isn't everything, it's the only thing."
Earlier this month, Howard told reporters that the chance to compete for a championship was one of the deciding factors in signing with the Rockets rather than his other four finalists, the Lakers, Warriors, Mavericks and Hawks. However, he did say Saturday that he wasn't going to guarantee any rings, a la LeBron James during his 2010 arrival in Miami.
"I am not gonna get up here and say we’re gonna win five championships," Horward said, according to the Sporting News. "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."
The Houston Chronicle reported that many Rockets luminaries, including Hakeem Olajuwon, were present for the press conference.
Also on hand to welcome Howard into the fraternity of Rockets big men were Elvin Hayes, Moses Malone, Ralph Sampson and Yao Ming. Drexler, John Lucas and Rockets Hall of Famer Calvin Murphy also were on hand, as were current Rockets Chandler Parsons, Patrick Beverley and Greg Smith plus head coach Kevin McHale.
Howard, 27, averaged 17.1 points, 12.4 rebounds and 2.4 blocks for the Lakers, who were swept out of the first round of the playoffs by the Spurs.Video via YouTube user beyondthebuzzercom