The Los Angeles Lakers met with free agent Dwight Howard on Tuesday and made the final pitch to him. Howard's meetings with teams are now over and he has left California to retreat to Colorado for "a few days" to consider his options. Since the meeting has finished Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak has released an official statement and said the Lakers are "hopeful" Howard returns.
The final group that met with Howard included Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash, Mike D'Antoni, Mitch Kupchak, Jim Buss, Tim Harris and representatives from Time Warner Cable and AEG. Bryant was considered the "headliner" for the presentation.
The Lakers did not involve figures from their history and instead stayed focus on the present and building toward the future with Howard, according to Dave McMenamin of ESPN. As expected, Jeanie Buss and Phil Jackson were not a part of the presentation.
Bryant took aim at the Houston Rockets' approach of bringing Yao Ming, Hakeem Olajuwon and Clyde Drexler to their meeting with Howard stating "there wasn't a room big enough" for the Lakers to bring in the legendary names that have been a part of the franchise, reports TNT analyst David Aldridge.
Bryant's message was straight forward and focused on winning, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports. Leading up to the Lakers' meeting with Howard was Bryant made it clear he is confident he can play at a "high level" for at least three more years, even after tearing his Achilles.
The overall theme in the meeting was Howard embracing the opportunity to play for the "biggest" team, "biggest" fan base and winningest franchise.
Much of the conversation revolved around the issues that raised to the surfaced during the Lakers 2012-2013 campaign and how they can build on the foundation and give it another shot when everybody -- including Howard -- is healthier. D'Antoni, Bryant, Nash and Howard reportedly met as a group separately to have an "honest" discussion, reports Ramona Shelburne of ESPN.
The Lakers also had a video presentation that included cameos from celebrities and entertainers. The organization prepared the video aspect of their pitch to Howard for "dozens and dozens of hours", team sources told Shelburne and McMenamin. L.A. gave Howard an iPad with video, images and material that the team presented Tuesday.
Howard's parting words after his whirlwind two days were that he had "a lot of great meetings." Howard can make his announcement at any point going forward and columnist Peter Vecsey speculates he could make his decision public on Friday according to "someone privy to Dwight Howard's plans", which is a long way of saying "sources". Or, that nobody really has any idea.
The great wait has officially begun.
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