It's hard to be sure if it would have made a difference in the end, but if the Los Angeles Lakers had honored Dwight Howard's request to hire Phil Jackson, perhaps the team wouldn't have lost out on the most coveted free agent of the summer.
According to Alex Kennedy of Hoopsworld, Howard said shortly after he agreed to sign with the Houston Rockets on a four-year, $88 million deal that he had asked the Lakers to hire Jackson as the team's head coach last season.
For anyone paying attention throughout the 2012-13 campaign, this isn't really news.
Howard made his feelings on the Zen Master known almost immediately after Mike Brown was fired last November. In fact, based on some of Howard's phrasing at the time, it sounded as though the big man was convinced that a Jackson hiring was a matter of "when" and not "if."
As the Phil Jackson watch continues, a look at Dwight Howard, who tells USAT of Zen Master - "He'll be great for me" - http://t.co/wJy1WfdM— Sam Amick (@sam_amick) November 10, 2012
Howard's affinity for Jackson dates back to his days with the Orlando Magic, as Kennedy noted shortly after Brown got the ax in Los Angeles.
Dwight Howard has always wanted to play for Phil Jackson. At one point, Howard asked Magic brass to pursue Jackson. #justsaying— Alex Kennedy (@AlexKennedyNBA) November 10, 2012
Of course, the Lakers never relented to Howard's requests. L.A. flirted with Jackson after cutting Brown loose, but due to some combination of Jackson's demands and owner Jim Buss' personal vendetta against the team's former coach, nothing materialized.
Instead, the Lakers hired Mike D'Antoni, with whom Howard clashed almost immediately.
Despite the rather obvious mismatch between D'Antoni and the Lakers' personnel, there was no serious talk of replacing him with Jackson during the season. Understandably, the Lakers were reluctant to face the embarrassment of firing D'Antoni and paying two coaches (Brown included) to sit at home.
It seems that stubbornness ended up costing the Lakers, as D12 is now off to Houston.
Dwight Howard asked the Lakers to make Phil Jackson the coach earlier this season. They passed and in the end so did he.— Arash Markazi (@ArashMarkazi) July 6, 2013
If Jackson had been hired when Howard requested, it's possible that things would have turned out just as badly for the Lakers. But there's no way they could have turned out worse.