The Atlanta Hawks have the opportunity to sign Dwight Howard, an Atlanta native, but the organization will need to be more aggressive in its efforts to persuade him. Other than his current team, the Los Angeles Lakers, Howard has seemed most interested in joining two other teams: the Houston Rockets and the Dallas Mavericks. According to Sports Illustrated, he has scheduled meetings with the Rockets, Mavericks and Hawks. Howard has indicated that one of his chief priorities is to sign with a team that has a chance to win NBA World Championships. ESPN reports that he hasn’t ruled out re-signing with the Lakers, and the Lakers have made significant attempts to convince him to re-sign. ESPN also discloses that he will meet with the Golden State Warriors about possibly joining their team.
Dwight Howard can have a huge impact on any team fortunate enough to sign him. One thing all of the aforementioned teams, except the Hawks, have done consistently and effectively is marketed to Howard at least one great extant player on their team that he could have a chance to play with by signing with them. The Hawks have failed to make a compelling case about how he could win NBA World Championships with their organization. It’s quite puzzling that the Hawks aren’t trying to engender a dominant image in the mind of Howard about the tremendous success he could have playing with Josh Smith. With Howard and Smith on the same team, and with the quality supporting cast the Hawks have, the team could make serious runs for NBA World Championships.
One arguable advantage the Atlanta Hawks have over most of the publicly promulgated teams interested in signing Howard is the city in which he would have a chance to play: Atlanta. Although the Lakers will be using Kobe Bryant in their efforts to get Dwight Howard to re-sign, the city of Atlanta may be more alluring to Mr. Howard than even continuing to be teammates with Kobe. With exception to Los Angeles, the other teams are located in media markets where Howard wouldn’t have the chance to become a renowned franchise star. For example, Dirk Nowitzki is arguably a future first-ballot NBA Hall of Famer, but the Dallas sports media market doesn’t command the power and attention of the Atlanta sports media. Nowitzki’s greatness, therefore, is often overlooked.
The city of Atlanta offers Howard an opportunity to stay in the local and national spotlight. Rashan Beachem notes that a Black professional athlete like Mr. Howard can socialize with many other high-profile Blacks in sundry industries in Atlanta. Atlanta is Dwight’s home city; therefore, the Hawks can use the emotional connection he has to the city to their advantage.
Dwight Howard has the potential to ameliorate any team’s chances of winning NBA World Championships. In 1958, the Hawks won its only NBA World Championship. Atlanta fans are hungry for a NBA World Championship. Howard could be the key to their wishes being granted.