23 Very Important Lessons Dwight Howard Learned From LeBron's 'Decision'

Howard Smith-US PRESSWIRE - Presswire

Dwight Howard interpreted the backlash from LeBron's "Decision" all wrong. The Hook helps set him straight.

Dwight Howard admitted over the weekend to ESPN's Ric Bucher (who gets inordinately high-quality interviews, I might add) that he was so wishy washy over his decision to leave the Orlando Magic last season in part because he didn't want to make the same mistake that LeBron James had made in 2010. That mistake, apparently, was the simple act of leaving Cleveland.

As Andrew Sharp notes, Dwight is wrong: everyone hated LeBron for the way in which he left, not the act of leaving. That mistaken analysis by Team Dwight led to Howard trying to convince himself he should stay when he clearly didn't want to ... which made everything worse.

But that mistake pales in comparison to these other 23 lessons Dwight learned from the LeBron backlash.

1. Charity settings are terrible. They look disingenuous. Better to make a globally broadcast pronouncement about your future in a more lively setting, like Club Liv or a beach in the Bahamas.

2. ESPN is the improper network on which to announce your future. Try CNBC or Bloomberg TV.

3. Jim Gray should not be within 10 miles of your announcement spectacle. Baghdad Bob is a much more trustworthy interviewer. He's also likely to be available.

4. Joining a superteam means you are a wuss. Consider signing with the Bobcats.

5. Business casual dress makes it seem as if you don't care. Be sure to wear a tuxedo, tuxedo T-shirt or Canadian tuxedo to your announcement. This is a big moment. Keep it classy.

6. Delaying 20 minutes into a one-hour special to make your announcement is terrible. That's no way to build drama. Wait until you're 59 minutes in, say "I'm taking my talents to .." and roll out the "To Be Continued ..." screen. Make more money for that charity with a mini-series.

7. One hour is not enough time to properly prepare the masses. See above. The tension needs to build. You need to drive the fans wild with curiosity.

8. Appearing solo makes you look weak. Better to have your agent, brand manager, personal assistant, stylist and nutritionist sitting behind you and, if possible, cutting in to provide "no comments" to Baghdad Bob's more cutting questions, like "When did you decide?" and "What are you doing for dinner? I hear there's this great Thai place down the street."

9. Better yet, to really bang home the money angle, bring your investment banker or Warren Buffett.

10. Wear a headband. Make sure people remember you play basketball, not hockey. People don't care about hockey.

11. Show a stronger commitment to family. Have your lady call during the interview, and be sure to answer the phone. Don't cut her off -- display your sensitive side by listening to her patiently, no matter whether you're on national TV or not.

12. Basketball players without fans are boring. Bring a cheering section. Maybe even a heckler for authenticity.

13. Americans respect virility. You need scantily clad women to mill about.

14. Making your announcement on July 8 -- when free agency began July 1 -- will annoy people. Wait until late August or early September, when the NBA calendar is really clear. Plus, it will keep teams that need to sign other players in suspense all summer long. Other free agents will deeply appreciate the opportunity for longer auditions.

15. This is a very serious matter for many people. Have you pitched it to 60 Minutes yet?

16. Nobody likes a skinny puppy. Eat during the announcement. Rice cakes or pita chips, preferably.

17. People love a good prank. Give a few misdirections. "I've chosen the Orlando ... Orlando Bloom, what on Earth are you doing here? Back from Middle Earth already? Oh, hold up Bloomie -- yeah, I've chosen the Lakers."

18. Spoken word is so '80s. Get a beat from Just Blaze and rap your decision.

19. LeBron failed to recognize that leaving Cleveland for Miami would aggravate Cavaliers fans' inferiority complex. He really could have benefited from brightly colored charts comparing income levels, recreational outlets, annual snowfall and average January temperatures. People love charts.

20. LeBron did not provide an outlet for blame. Do your best to throw your coach under the bus before, during and after the announcement. Please do not allow him to speak to the media before you. It's a bit awkward.

21. The extended LeBron backlash was fueled by jersey burnings. Pre-empt the madness by burning your own jersey on live TV. Fans will appreciate your loyalty.

22. Leak your decision in a room full of millionaires while bagging on the 47 percent of fans who don't even buy jerseys. Secretly taped video is so hot right now.

23. Holding a parade-like welcome party with your new team is not advised. First you need to throw yourself an incredible goodbye celebration in your old team's arena. Respect yourself properly. Give the fans something grand to look back on when they are forced to go back to their sad little lives.

***

The Hook is a daily NBA column by Tom Ziller. See the archives.

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