Dwight Howard's only public comment on his impending free agency is that he just wants "to win."
But it's a certain renowned segment of Houston life that could win over the heart of the best center in the NBA. No, not the Bayou City's rising juggernaut restaurant scene or it's much-cited "cool" factor. And heaven forbid, not its arts power.
No, we're talking strip clubs.
Or at least, ESPN's Bill Simmons — who only wrote the best book ever written on basketball (with apologies to Sam Smith) — is. In making the case that the Houston Rockets are the only NBA franchise that makes sense for Howard, Simmons touts H-Town's strip clubs as one of the things that has piqued the big man's interest.
Simmons calls it the "fun nightlife" factor and makes it clear what he means in one of his patented footnotes: "This was a PC way of saying 'NBA guys love the strip-joint scene in Houston.' "
One might hope that the NBA could move beyond these league stereotypes — surely Howard would enjoy a good meal at Oxheart, or at least, Katsuya, too — but free agency pursuers cannot afford to discount any factor. Especially when they're competing against the clout of the Los Angeles Lakers.
It turns out Rockets general manager Daryl Morey might want to work on making sure Harris County doesn't follow through on that threat of shutting down Treasures while he wheels and deals to free up cap space. The lure of playing with James Harden should be strong, but the lure of hanging out with Destiny, Cinnamon, Angel (pick your favorite stripper name) could be even stronger.
Oh, Simmons brings up some other attributes he feels make Houston perfect for Howard: The lack of pressure, its gentle media, the "great" barbecue (OK, maybe Simmons hasn't spent all that much time here), the Rockets' ability to give Howard plenty of outside shooters to pass to (bringing back visions of his best Orlando days), the lack of state income tax, etc . . .
But it's the strip club one that makes this list stand out as the Rockets, the Lakers and the seemingly longer shot Dallas Mavericks vie for Howard.
And you didn't think NBA champions were built in champagne rooms. Everyone will truly get an idea for where Howard stands — or lounges — when NBA free agency kicks off on July 1.