Hakeem Olajuwon is hardly the unbiased observer when it comes to the Dwight Howard sweepstakes as he was part of the Rockets’ delegation to woo the free agent big man. But if you’re a Rockets fan, you have to like the vibe Olajuwon got from their sit-down.
“It’s an 85 percent chance he ends up in Houston,” Olajuwon told ThePostGame on Wednesday. “You never know, but after that meeting we had, I feel very comfortable that we have the best chance to get him.”
Olajuwon, who went to the NBA Finals three times and won two titles with the Rockets, and Clyde Drexler were among those who attended Houston’s presentation to Howard on Monday in Los Angeles. While they mentioned some off-the-court perks such as how the cost of living and state taxes are more favorable in Texas than California, the central issue was basketball.
Olajuwon said he got the sense Howard liked what the Rockets were selling.
“We’re going to come to you,” Olajuwon said. “You have James Harden there. You have the backcourt. You’re going to get the ball. The coach is there knowing we need your presence in the middle. So we were speaking his language. It’s what he wanted. So he was so excited.”
The Rockets might be considered the frontrunner for Howard, who has also met with Dallas, Atlanta, Golden State and the Lakers, but that means nothing if he ultimately opts to sign elsewhere.
“If you truly want to win a championship, this is the right team,” Olajuwon said. “And I think he feels the sincerity that this is a true opportunity to make something special.”
Regardless of team, Howard will have to cope with the considerable scrutiny that comes with being a franchise center.
“He needs to be comfortable,” Olajuwon said. “There’s a lot of expectations because his position is the primary position for any team. It’s the foundation of any team. So he needs to accept that responsibility. When you play with a team that looks for you to establish yourself, before they can establish a team, that makes him more comfortable, knowing his role is so valuable.”
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