New relationships are exciting.
Before the marriage analogy goes any further, however, it's important to give Dwight's "relationship" history a quick once-over.
Context is crucial, especially in matters such as this.
With anything new, there's always that initial phase of mutual enjoyment for both parties. At first, they tolerate one another's little quirks or frustrations, but as with most relationships, eventually a strain of some sort develops.
Sometimes the strains bend, but luckily for both parties, it isn't enough to break the bind in half. For others, unfortunately, the strain is wrenching and eventually it is too much for either party to bear, so a permanent mutual separation is agreed upon.
In the NBA, we could say "mutual separation" is a euphemism for a trade or rejection of a contract offer, but then again, sometimes separation isn't always mutually wanted.
Case in point: this past offseason with the Los Angeles Lakers and Dwight Howard.
The Lakers wanted Dwight, and they wanted him badly, but Howard was reportedly unhappy (courtesy of NBCSports.com) with how things were going in Laker Land after his first season wearing the purple, gold and white.
So much so that despite their wishes to get him back, and their ability to offer him the most money, he turned down their offer in favor of Houston.
Even though fans had to suffer through a Dwight Howard free-agency sweepstakes, many in L.A. seemed to know Dwight had already mentally packed his bags a long, long time ago.
Former teammate and current Lakers point guard Steve Nash even chimed in remarking how he himself also felt Dwight never wanted to be there (courtesy of NBCSports.com) in the first place.
Now in Houston, it remains to be seen if Dwight Howard's usual antics will rear their ugly heads.
Dwight has already been "married" twice—first Orlando, then Los Angeles and now Houston.
After two divorces, is marriage No. 3 finally where he and his suitor figure it out?
Well, it's a little too soon to say for sure, but without question, the biggest hurdle in the short term is getting over the dreaded "honeymoon" phase of any new pairing.
Remember, with any new relationship, sparks will fly, but when the excitement wears off, the real test begins.
This phenomenon will go on up until the first loss—in a loss, no matter how great you are, criticism will always pop up somewhere, and for someone like Dwight, it's proven to be corrosive to his confidence.
In Orlando, many lashed out at him for turning on his coach and many more did so in Los Angeles after a horrifically disappointing season. But in Houston, he can no longer shirk the responsibility of being the main man.
Whether he likes it or not, the fans and the media will be looking to him as the leader of this ball club.
Houston firmly believes Dwight is their ticket to a championship, but for that to happen, Howard's game and attitude need tremendous improvement—yes, you read that right: Dwight Howard, a perennial All-Star, needs to improve his game tremendously.
To be the man, you have to play like the man. He can't get touches late in the fourth if his free-throw shooting is abysmal, and he can't command respect from his peers if they see him as the goofball whose best move on the block is an awkward shimmy and hurling hook shot.
He has very little semblance of an elite post game, and even for someone of his caliber, you can only get by with athleticism for so long.
It's put up or shut up time for Dwight; another fallout could be the final straw as far as teams willing to deal with his antics.
Let's face it: This is a very young team as a whole, and adding a new player means there will be some growing pains; that's to be expected.
The sports world is unforgiving to losers and is willing to forgive winners.
If Dwight can win in Houston, the media onslaught will cease and the naysayers will be briefly hushed.
Remember LeBron James prior to winning a championship? He was arguably the most-despised and constantly criticized player in the NBA.
All it took was a ring, and overnight, the entire scope of his career henceforth shifted from bleakness to greatness.
Dwight Howard has the potential to be an all-time great, and his suitors in Houston see that.
Once the honeymoon crashes to a halt following that first loss, Dwight will have to prove his resilience.
He has the "wedding ring," but the real piece of hardware he should be focused on is a championship ring.
For his and Houston's sake, they'll eventually need one if this relationship is expected to work out.
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