The Rockets had a caravan in Los Angeles tonight in their attempt to sign the most coveted free agent of 2013 – Dwight Howard. As a Rockets fan that has been living in this town for 28 years, I know that trying to find someone in this city is a proverbial needle in a haystack. Unless you know beforehand where someone is going to be, it’s complete luck.
As luck would have it, I knew where they were going to be as the hotel where they were staying was tweeted out less than an hour before the meeting. The hotel was a 10 minute drive from my place so I knew what I had to do.
I got there a few minutes before 9:00 pm local time. I did not see any activity so I thought maybe I had missed it and instead would just be stuck with a very high valet tab. Fortunately I spotted Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle, so I knew I was in the right place. Though the Rockets did have a conference room reserved at the hotel, the meeting was not to take place there.
I was on my way upstairs to check out the conference room when I heard a voice – a familiar voice – making its way down the stairs. I went back down and sure enough it was Hakeem Olajuwon and Rockets owner Les Alexander coming down the stairs. The caravan was getting ready to make its move.
I stood in awe – Dream is the only person that I’ve ever met that can do that to me. He returned the greetings and Les stepped in to say he liked the shirt I was wearing. (It was a red Rockets dress shirt- a compliment later echoed by Daryl Morey and Rockets CEO Tad Brown)
Two names I did overhear uttered by Les to Olajuwon were Jarrett Jack and Josh Smith, though I think he was talking about Smith in relation to Detroit chasing him.
As Les and Dream made their way out of the hotel, the rest of the group started to emerge. Daryl was in front with not one but two IPads in his hands. He was flanked by Brown and assistant GM Gersson Rosas. Then came Coach Kevin McHale and Rockets Legend Clyde Drexler, and bringing up the rear was Chandler Parsons, James Harden and trainer Keith Jones.
The whole spectacle was simply amazing. Daryl was in an upbeat mood and when I asked about the chances of landing Dwight, he just smiled.
“We’ll see,” said Daryl.
There was a large party van that was waiting for the team and everyone piled in, their destination a secret as that location was set by Dwight and his agent. But make no mistake, the team was pulling out all the stops in trying to woo Dwight. Bringing their two current franchise players in Harden and Parsons and two former ones in Dream and Clyde, the Rockets were putting on a complete full court press.
Contrary to belief, the Rockets did not meet with Dwight at 12:01 eastern. Depending on where they were going (even if it was nearby), their meeting probably didn’t start until around 12:35-12:40 eastern. From what was said at least, the meeting was going to take several hours.
I can feel it though. There is excitement back with the Rockets, excitement that hasn’t been around in about nine years. July 10th can’t come soon enough.