Final Word

By Jeff Girod

Posted July 18, 2013 in News
JeffGirodDwight Howard picked Houston. And the rest of us said, “Huh?”

That’s been the general reaction to the free agent, All-star center after Howard chose a four-year, $88 million deal with the Houston Rockets over re-signing with the Los Angeles Lakers.

We all figured there must be something seriously wrong with Dwight Howard. Like maybe he’s brain damaged. Or running from the CHP. Or deathly afraid of earthquakes.

Or maybe Dwight just has a speech impediment. “Los Angeles” can’t be that hard to pronounce, can it? Try it again, Dwight. Every time you say “Los Angeles,” it keeps sounding like “Houston.”

Because nobody in Southern California—and really, nobody outside of Houston—could figure out why anyone would ever choose a humid, swampy, bug infested cement pile like Texas over a palm tree laden, coastal paradise like California.

This is home, baby. This is where Mickey Mouse lives—not to mention every celebrity from Oprah to Justin Beiber to Brangelina. Is it egocentric to think everyone should choose Southern California over a place such as Houston? You tell me.

Where do all the celebrities and millionaires live, SoCal or Houston? Even athletes who play in other states choose our beaches during the offseason. You can chant, “Go Boston” or “Go Chicago” all you want, but after every last basket, home run and touchdown, all of your favorite sports stars are going to Malibu.

Have you ever heard anyone who’s ever won the lottery say, “That’s it, we’re moving to Houston!” Or seen George Clooney do an interview from his palatial seaside villa in Houston? Or heard a game show host breathlessly tell an excited contestant, “You’ve just won seven luxurious nights in exotic Houston!”

Even the name: H-O-U-S-T-O-N. Bleck! It sounds like something you’d get stuck to the bottom of your shoe. Or some rashy disease: “Here, take this calamine lotion and rub it vigorously on your Houston.” Just the thought raises bumps on my tongue.

Now I’m sure even a 176-year-old principality like Houston has its merits. It’s the fourth largest city in the US. There are no state taxes. It’s home to the world’s largest livestock show and rodeo. And if you can wait until 2017—and if the fire ants, smog and tornadoes don’t get you first—Houston will host one Super Bowl. Yay! lists 246 things to do while vacationing in Houston. Among them, visits to the Sculpture Park, the Wall of Wonderment and an ice skating rink at the Galleria. I’d like to add two more things: Pack and get the hell out of Houston.

I’m sure there’s a similar list for vacationing in Southern California. Or you can just turn on your TV and pick a channel between 2 and 2000—because anything entertaining worth a damn was filmed here.

Every year, LA has the Oscars, Emmys and Grammys, not to mention every movie premiere since Thomas Edison and Marconi. And oh yeah, California also has more than 1,000 miles of coastline, year-round flip-flop weather and zip codes of women who look like Scarlett Johansson and Megan Fox. (We also have Scarlett Johansson and Megan Fox.)

So why wouldn’t Dwight Howard want to play basketball for the Los Angeles Lakers, for a basketball franchise with 16 championships and that has missed the playoffs only 5 times since 1948? If Dwight truly wants to be a worldwide icon, he could play every night inside a packed arena full of media moguls and celebs seated courtside. Heck, he could plan his Pixar movies and Pepsi commercials with Leo DiCaprio during timeouts.

Or maybe that’s just it. The moment was too big, too perfect and too easy not to screw up. (Dwight’s not very good at gimmes. His career free throw percentage is 57 percent.)

Future Hall-of-Famer, three-time world champion and former Lakers center Shaquille O’Neal said it best: “We’ve all been in LA, and not a whole lot of people can handle being under the bright lights . . . I think it was a safe move for [Dwight] to go to a little town like Houston.”

So enjoy Houston, Dwight.

You’re going to love its international waterborne tonnage—ranked first in the nation!

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