Today started the NBA Free Agency period where players can now talk to prospective teams and find the best deal for them.
With the hiring of Doc Rivers, the Clippers signed Chris Paul with ease and now Dwight Howard stands alone as the most prized free agent.
The Howard saga has been going for quite a few years now, with his on-again off-again two year episode in Orlando and his turbulent year last season as a Los Angeles Laker.
The Rockets, Hawks, Mavericks, Warriors and Lakers are all courting Howard…recruiting Howard that is.
Howard was one of the last players to go to the NBA straight out of high school. This meant that he had no real college recruiting process and now he gets to see what 5-star high school athletes like Andrew Wiggins get to experience.
And teams have not disappointed.
The Rockets brought in Hakeem Olajuwon and Clyde Drexler to personally meet with Howard, while Dikembe Mutombo sent a video recording and Yao Ming talked with Howard via Skype.
The Lakers, in a desperate attempt to retain Howard, even put up billboards around the city with the #StayD12 plastered on it. Despite their efforts, the Lakers are said to be an “unlikely” destination for Howard.
With all of this swooning and stroking of Howard’s ego going on, Kobe Bryant took a different approach. Bryant, who had his conflicts with Howard this past season, will be one of the representatives to meet with Howard tomorrow.
However, Bryant will not be begging Howard to stay.
In fact, according to recent comments that the the future Hall of Famer made, Bryant insisted that “It has to be his (Howard’s) decision. The last thing you want to do is convince a person that they want to be here. If you have to convince them, when challenges or adversity comes up next season, it’s very easy to say, ‘Well, they had to convince me to be here anyway. I don’t really want to be here. I’d rather be [somewhere else], but they sold me on it.’ “You want it to be his decision. When it’s something that’s rooted inside of him, it’s something he champions. I just want to be there to assist his decision.”
This is refreshing to hear.
Amongst all of his crew telling him how great he is and all of the teams vying for his services, it is nice to hear Kobe using good common sense.
College coaches should heed this warning from Kobe.
Of course you want to sell the benefits of your school and show each recruit how they would fit in your program. However, when it is at the risk of forcing the players decision that is a recipe for disaster, for them and your program.
The final choice has to be the players, be it in the NBA or college.
Make your best pitch for your school, but don’t plead. Let them know how important they could be if they choose to join your program, but don’t beg.
You have to communicate, but you shouldn’t have to convince.
The recruiting process should be about developing a relationship that enhances how great a fit is for the recruit both academically and athletically.
Unfortunately, this is not always the case which is why so many student-athletes end up transferring.
College coaches must be sure that recruits are told what they need to hear, rather than what they want to hear. Instead, the recruiting process should be about transparency, honesty and vision.
I am sure Coach Kobe will communicate these to Howard, but it has to be Howard’s decision….Lakers, good luck!
(you will need it)…
Follow Bert DeSalvo on Twitter @CoachDeSalvo