DALLAS (105.3 THE FAN) – While the Rockets have offered a play-by-play of their dinner with Dwight, and the Lakers have more leaks than the Titanic, the Mavs have kept a hermetic seal on the details of their Dwight Pitch. This is no accident; Dallas’ post-meeting behavior is specifically tailored to appeal to the free-agent center, as Mark Cuban explains to DallasBasketball.com and FOXSports in an exclusive visit, his first following the Dwight meeting.
Can “quiet” be a strategy? Can “privacy” be an appeal?
Like the rest of the sports world, we’ve taken note of what we know about the pitches made to Dwight Howard. Which pitch do we all know the least about? The Mavs’ pitch.
And we are finding out that is by design.
“We never talk,” Mavs owner Mark Cuban tells us in an exclusive morning-of-July 4 visit representing his first true post-Dwight-pitch interview. “We take pride in being private. That much I can say on-the-record.”
Cuban isn’t specifically saying anything about the other teams’ pitches. But again, the rest of us waiting on Howard’s choice have taken note.
What happened during the Lakers’ meeting with Dwight Howard?
The same thing that happened before and after; loud talk, arm-waving, and maybe some confusion.
“You need to learn how it’s done first, and I can teach you here,” Yahoo reports Kobe Bryant told Dwight in the LA recruiting meeting. “You have to learn how it’s done. I know how to do it and I’ve learned from the best – players who have won multiple times over and over. … Instead of trying to do things your way, just listen and learn and tweak it, so it fits you.’’
Forget whether Kobe bullying is the right way to appeal to Howard. Note that the information oozed out into the public, where Howard might not wish it to be.
Meanwhile, coach Mike D’Antoni and guard Steve Nash both conducted street-corner interviews with the media to discuss what was said in their meeting. Oh, and ex-coach Phil Jackson is now tweeting that he was willing to meet with Howard on behalf of the Lakers but that the meeting somehow never came together.
What happened during the Rockets’ meeting with Dwight Howard?
In short order, the Houston Chronicle (to its credit) printed so many details of its dinner with Howard that it seemed the paper had bribed the busboys.
*The Rockets delegation gathered throughout the day Sunday in Beverly Hills …
*At 9:01 p.m. L.A. time, the first moment teams can express official interest in free agents, Rockets general manager Daryl Morey tweeted: “Free agency kicking off! Hoping to meet with @DwightHoward tonight.”
*At 9:14, the Rockets contingent left the Wilshire in a Mercedes luxury van for their meeting at another hotel.
*There were books and an iPad with much of the information presented to be left with Howard and his representatives, along with video testimonials from, among others, Yao Ming and Dikembe Mutombo.
* Hall of Famers Clyde Drexler and Hakeem Olajuwon traveled from around the world for the meeting. Drexler flew in from Taiwan, arriving after a 13-hour flight Sunday afternoon. Olajuwon traveled from Jordan for the meeting. … Harden and Parsons were part of the presentation. … The Rockets brought owner Leslie Alexander, president Tad Brown, Morey, vice president and athletic trainer Keith Jones and executive vice president Gersson Rosas.
Clearly, Morey (or somebody) forgot to tell the Chronicle how many cubes of sugar Dwight took in his coffee.
The above represents outstanding reporting on the part of the media but to the Dallas Mavericks – and they believe, to Dwight – it represents something else: An excess of grandstanding and a absence of privacy.
One of the reasons Howard’s relationship broke down with his bosses in Orlando is that his behind-the-scenes efforts to gain organizational power were quickly exposed in the media. (That’s not to say his efforts had merit, just to say that the franchise might’ve been better off keeping a lid on the tumult.)
Now comes this free-agency process and the precise details of what occurred in the LA and Houston meetings are in every newspaper, on every website and on every TV channel in America.
But the Dallas meeting?
It was known beforehand that Cuban, Donnie, Carlisle and Dirk would be present. Only because they were caught by a camera in a parking garage does anyone know that Mavs staffers Roland Beech (analytics) and Casey Smith (trainer) were also present. It was educated-guessed-at beforehand what some of the pitch aspects might be, but the Mavs never fully confirmed any reports. And quotes coming out of the meeting?
There is only the parking-garage “It was fun,’’ remark from Cuban as the Mavs contingent piled into a get-away vehicle.
“It was fun.” You will notice that Cuban is the only real speaker there (outside of a Dirk joke). You should know that Cuban is the singular voice in all of this. (Compare that to Hakeem granting interviews offering percentages of Dwight-to-Houston.) He habitually takes bullets for his players and staff in nightly StairMaster sessions with the media and in doing so, provides a deflective shield that allows the basketball people to focus on their basketball jobs.
Why? No leaks. No distractions. No confusion. One voice.
“I won’t comment on any player specifically,” Cuban tells us. “We won’t comment on any player specifically. I will just tell you that we take pride in how we don’t negotiate in the press and we take pride in the fact we don’t talk about deals we are doing.”
That’s all the Mavs are giving anybody. But in doing so, they feel they are giving Dwight Howard one of the things he desires, the one thing other pitchmen have seemingly ignored: Quiet protection from the storm.
“The perfect situation is that everyone hears about it when it’s announced,’’ Cuban says.
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