Parsons pivotal in luring Howard
Published: Saturday, July 13, 2013 at 11:00 p.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, July 13, 2013 at 11:00 p.m.
Of all the people the Rockets enlisted to help lure Dwight Howard to Houston, the star admitted that his new teammate Chandler Parsons made the biggest impact.
“Chandler is probably the guy you should really thank,” Howard said. “He's been blowing my phone up every day. He's been great.”
Howard couldn't pinpoint one thing the former Gator said that helped sway his decision, but noted that they had numerous conversations about Houston's great team chemistry and the feeling of family.
Parsons, a second-round pick in 2011 who has developed into a solid starter, said he tried to sell Howard on the idea of winning.
“I just told him: ‘We're going to be really good without you, we're going to win games without you. Come make us great,'” he said.
Howard has a new team and catchy new nickname.
“He's not Superman anymore. He's Rocket Man now,” longtime Rockets broadcaster Bill Worrell said Saturday as he introduced the team's major free agent acquisition.
As Howard took the stage and greeted several Houston officials including owner Leslie Alexander and coach Kevin McHale, a couple of his new teammates playfully repeated his new moniker — ‘Rocket Man, Rocket Man' — and were met with a huge, toothy smile from Howard.
“It means a lot to me just to have a fresh start and have an opportunity to write my own story,” Howard said. “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.”
The Rockets gave him a four-year deal worth about $88 million, a year less and far below the $118 million the Lakers could have offered.
The center was formally introduced in Houston on Saturday after spurning the Lakers to sign with the Rockets. He was greeted by some of the brightest stars in team history.
Hall of Fame center Hakeem Olajuwon and Yao Ming were among those on hand to celebrate Howard's signing. Also joining the party were Ralph Sampson, Clyde Drexler and Elvin Hayes.