Dwight Howard on Chandler Parson's recruitment
Chandler Parsons sat in the first row on the Toyota Center floor to watch Dwight Howard’s introductory press conference Saturday.
But maybe he should have had a seat on the stage.
Parsons was the one Rocket who really led the team’s charge to land the highly-prized free agent center. The two have a relationship and Howard said Parsons called him or texted him just about every day.
“Chandler, he’s probably the guy you should really thank,” Howard said. “He’s been blowing my phone up every day. But he’s been great. I’m just so happy to be here.”
Parsons, a second-round pick from 2011, changed the entire landscape of the NBA with a slew of phone calls and text messages.
“It’s been hectic,” Parsons said. “I feel like everywhere I go, everyone is congratulating me on Dwight Howard and not even my own basketball career. It’s fun to add a guy like that to our team and a friend. I’m excited for our future and this upcoming season.”
Parsons, along with James Harden and members of the team’s brass, went to Los Angeles a couple weeks ago for the in-person courtship of Howard, one that ultimately proved victorious.
Parsons is also a part of the core group of the team that includes Harden, Jeremy Lin, Omer Asik and Patrick Beverley, who was also in attendance on Saturday.
“It feels good. I’m just excited I got the job done,” Parsons said. “I had an impact on him. I was just talking to him, telling him about the city, the organization, the guys we have now. He’s the best center in the NBA, so I was doing everything I could to get him to be on our team because I know he can help us win immediately and for a long time.”
Since entering the league in 2004, Howard has averaged 18.3 points, 12.9 rebounds and 2.2 blocks per game. He's the only player in the NBA to average 18, 12 and two in that span. He's also one of two players in league history with that stat line for a career. The other is former Rocket Elvin Hayes, who was in the building on Saturday too.
Recruiting Howard and helping him land on the Rockets was “kind of surreal” for Parsons, a Florida native, who grew up watching Howard. Parsons said his brothers even have Dwight Howard jerseys.
“He’s so fun and goofy, it’s not weird at all,” Parsons said.
A lot of the talk on Saturday circled around Howard’s fun-loving personality, which will be on display soon enough. Howard and Parsons said they plan to make some sort of music video together, to which head coach Kevin McHale buried his face into his hands. Howard said he’ll be Montell Jordan. Parsons will be Justin Timberlake. And Harden will be Rick Ross.
“I was hoping I could be Robin Thicke,” Parsons said, “but I guess I’ll take Justin Timberlake.”
It’s silly but this team’s camaraderie is something Howard seemed pleased with. In fact, the team will be together in Los Angeles next week with a few coaches to begin work on the next season. The workouts were planned by Harden and Parsons and will be a chance for the team to begin jelling on and off the court.
Parsons said what he told Howard during those near-daily phone calls to entice him to come to Houston was pretty simple. He said he reminded him about how good the fit was, how much the team wanted him and how good the coaches are.
“He made it seem like I was hounding him but I was just hitting him up when I needed to,” Parsons said.
His motives were simple enough. Parsons made it his goal to get the best center in the world into a Houston Rockets jersey.
OK, maybe there was one ulterior motive.
“That’s really why I was calling him every day,” Parsons said, answering the basketball question smiling. “I knew I was going to get more shots.”