Part of Dwight Howard's complicated departure from the Lakers involves the fact that he didn't have any strong relationships there. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, though unquestionably one of the greatest players of all time, has a complicated history with the team and has never really been the ambassador the likes of say, Bill Russell. Shaquille O'Neal and Howard ... yeah, that's not going to work.
So there was no real cord to tie him to the team emotionally. No one who could understand the life of a big man in the NBA.
No one like Hakeem Olajuwon.
Howard has been working out with "The Dream" for years in Houston, and Olajuwon was part of the pitch meeting that Houston put together for Howard. And now, he's joinng the team in an official capacity for the first time since he was a player.
Olajuwon will rejoin the Rockets in an official capacity for the first time since he last played for Houston in 2001 as a mentor to the team's interior players, or in other words, newly signed center Dwight Howard (and Omer Asik, too).
Olajuwon's duties and title are still being discussed, but according to Rockets GM Daryl Morey, there is mutual interest to get a deal done to bring one of the most popular players in team history back to Houston officially.
"We are going to bring him in as full-time as is possible. It's not done, but we have mutual interest to get it done, and we've had some early discussions," Morey told the Houston Chronicle. "We want him to work with Dwight and Omer, and he wants to do that."
It's a foundational move more than anything. Olajuwon can identify with what Howard goes through every game and can help him on both ends of the floor. There's no magical reworking of Howard's game; he's not going to suddenly dominate in the post. (Howard's post game is widely debated and a subject of discussion for another time. Short story: It's good, not great, certainly not elite or terrible.)
There's no big transformation, but Olajuwon can help him in small ways and keep him focused and engaged. More than anything, though, Olajuwon is someone whom Howard can trust. And, much by his own design, he hasn't really had that in more than two years.