Every time one tag team bench-presses the bar of expectations, another ups the tempo and raises the sales pitch.
July 1 is the official start of NBA free agency; episode one of basketball's version of The Bachelor, where franchise owners and moonlighting yacht captains beg on their knees like athletic groupies.
There's a fine line between "resign" and "re-sign." In the Lakers' ongoing scenario, it's less like a hyphen and more like a tightrope.
First came the Valentine banners.
Desperate Lakers hang banner on their arena asking Dwight Howard to stay. pic.twitter.com/Y2N8lM7y2l— Mark Gurman (@markgurman) June 26, 2013
Then, newly appointed consultant and championship hoarder Phil Jackson took to Twitter and phrased a passive-aggressive plea in a way that only the "Zen Master" can.
@dwighthoward “i’m going up to the country going to paint my mailbox blue.” While i’m there I expect to see you get on board tis ur place— Phil Jackson (@PhilJackson11) June 30, 2013
Howard will be left wondering two things: What is the origin of the quote, and why does Phil Jackson tweet like a fortune cookie?
The lyric dates back to a blues song by Taj Mahal; a song based around venturing out to the countryside and leaving the "smog" of LA in the rear-view. In other words, when Jackson returns from vacationing in Montana, the decorated coach hopes that he won't be the only one to have reunited with Los Angeles.
Bryant funneled his former coach's sentiments in an even more indirect fashion.
The guy's named after a venomous snake who submits its peers by slamming their head into the ground—that tweet's as close to "begging" as begging gets for Kobe B. Bryant.
But if "Superman" follows Jackson's footsteps and departs LAX, his plane will probably be arriving in Houston or Dallas. Everything's bigger in Texas, including the in-state rivalries.
In the hours leading up to free agency, restaurant chain Raising Cane's offered one perk that the Lakers can't: free chicken fingers for life.
Money doesn't buy happiness. But as Daniel Tosh once said, "...It buys a WaveRunner."
Chicken fingers more or less sprout the same kind of euphoria. Have your significant other bring home honey-mustard-covered chicken goodness the next time you're filing taxes, and see if you don't react like an Herbal Essences commercial (spoiler: you do).
However, if that doesn't win over the seven-time All-Star, ESPN's Jeff Goodman reported that Mark Cuban and Dirk Nowitzki are scheduled to meet with him on Tuesday.
Not to be outdone, the Rockets have already laid out their feature presentation.
When the clock struck midnight (ET), general manager Daryl Morey tweeted at Howard quicker than a Walmart worker punching out his Black Friday time card.
If Morey's to be believed, the Rockets' first impression graduated to a lasting one.
At the end of the day, trying to predict Dwight Howard is like guessing the carpet color of Craig Sager's first VW bus.
If Nostradamus strapped him to a lie detector, he'd pop two aspirin and leave the room looking for a career change.
By the end of the week, Laker Girls will compete for Howard's love on a Survivor spin-off, Yao Ming will hand over the key to Beijing and American Airlines Center will be rebranded as Krypton.
Sunday, along with every day that follows it, will eventually become bricks in the Great Wall of Wikipedia pages.
And Dwight Howard savors every minute of it.
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