There were lessons to be learned out of how LeBron James handled leaving Cleveland for the Miami Heat. A long list of what not to do. One was the pitfalls of hubris and that not everything can be spun positively.
Another was that people are going to hate you for that kind of move, and you have to accept that and not let it influence you.
Dwight Howard didn’t learn the second lesson until it was too late. Way too late. It was obvious to those of us on the outside, but Howard didn’t seem to get it.
Now he does. Howard sat down with ESPN’s Ric Bucher for an interview (check out Sunday night’s SportsCenter) and admitted as much.
“That’s one of the lessons that I learned, you know. I can’t make everybody happy,” Howard told Bucher…
“And it was a tug of war between my feelings and the fans and everybody else and their feelings and what happened to LeBron. And I saw him — everybody hated him for leaving Cleveland and what he did,” Howard said… “I never wanted anybody to hate me, you know. I wanted everybody to love me, you know, like me, for sticking around and doing what they wanted me to do. And making everybody else happy. And that was a valuable lesson for me, you know.
“I can’t make everybody happy.”
It was a lesson that cost him a lot in public relations to learn. It was a lesson he should have known going in but he didn’t really study the history of how forcing your way out of a team was done.
LeBron was first but it was really Carmelo Anthony’s playbook that Howard followed… up until he wanted everyone to like him and waived his ability to opt out of his deal this summer (essentially removing his leverage to get traded at the deadline). It was a disaster. Howard wanted everyone to like him, and Howard just seemed to be going through the motions — “All the other superstars are switching teams, I guess I should, too.”
Howard goes on to say the only things he can say: I learned my lesson and I’m looking forward.
“I don’t have any regrets, you know. I think everything happened the way that it was meant to happen,” Howard said… “I really just wish some of the lies and some of the things being said didn’t come out the way it did, you know.
“But I have an opportunity to do something great here in L.A, and I can’t look back and think about everything that’s behind me.”
Howard’s next one is something LeBron and Kobe Bryant have already learned — you can bounce back from PR disasters if you win.