Dwight Howard agonized for months, actually years about his NBA future.
His last two seasons in Orlando, plus what turned out to be his only season as a Laker last season, were wrought with apprehension and indecision about where and with whom he wanted to play. This past offseason he finally had a clear enough vision of his future to decide with some conviction that Houston was where he wanted to be.
He's maintained that he's never regretted the decision, a decision that has him entering the playoffs with a team he truly believes can do something special. Game One of the Rockets best-of-seven series against Portland is Sunday night at Toyota Center.
"This is the reason why I chose this place and this team," Howard said after the Rockets practice on Friday. "I feel like we've got a great opportunity and I don't want to take any moment for granted.
"We've come along way. I told you guys at the beginning of the year, we would be a lot better at the end of the year than we were at the beginning," said Howard, who averaged 25.5 points and 13.5 rebounds per game against Portland this season. "As you can see, for our first year together, we've accomplished a lot of things. We're not pleased with what we've done so far, but we're happy with our progress. It's go time, this is what we play for, championship. This is why we're here. You can't be satisfied with being good, we want to be great. We've taken steps to be great, we've got to keep going.
"From the first day that I arrived, this team showed nothing but love," Howard added. "I'm thankful to be here in this city. The fans have been amazing. My teammates have been great. Mr. A(lexander, the Rockets owner) has been amazing. So I want to show them my gratitude by going out and giving everything I've got for this playoff run. Hopefully, we'll end up in the championship."