Conceptually, sales is a pretty simple concept -- cast a wide enough net to gather enough prospects, deliver your message to said prospects, accentuating your strengths and addressing objections about your weaknesses, and then close the deal on a certain percentage of said prospects.
Daryl Morey knows this. He's talked extensively the last few years about the pipeline of free agency prospects and trade proposals in which the Rockets have engaged in an attempt to attract a superstar. It took dozens of misses on Chris Boshes and Pau Gasols, but ultimately the Rockets landed James Harden and Dwight Howard.
Harden came over in a trade, but Howard was courted via free agency, which is definitely more of a true "sales pitch" situation, a situation in which you really need to know your audience.
By all accounts, the Rockets' sales pitch to Howard centered around the team's rich tradition of big men, the quality of life in Houston, their roster's youth, talent level, and future flexibility, and the promise of Dwight's inclusion for input in personnel decisions.
This is a strategy that a team should use if they're trying to attract a motivated, "big picture" savvy, NBA star.
So if the Rockets' approach to Dwight was sound strategy, what was the Mavericks' approach?
The Dallas Mavericks were at one time thought to be, at worst, a dark horse to land Howard and, at best, a slight favorite. (To be fair, most of that talk was fueled by a June report from ESPN's Chris Broussard, whose accuracy rate during the quest for Dwight made CNN's reporting of the Boston Marathon bombing look like the razor sharp precision of ACN in the "bin Laden's death" episode of The Newsroom. My first ever Newsroom reference!)
But somewhere along the way, the bleak reality of Dallas' roster situation (at the time, pretty much an aging Dirk Nowitzki and a bunch of 2014 cap space to spend on guys who won't come to Dallas) set in for Dwight, probably about the time that the Mavericks pressed PLAY on the video below.
Yes, the following video was reportedly shown to Dwight Howard in the Mavs' recruiting pitch to bring him to Dallas. Go ahead and watch it, then naturally we will Zapruder this bad boy:
Awful, right? ("Yes" is the correct answer.)
Let's examine just how awful:
0:01 -- The tone is set right out of the shoot, as we get a cartoon font saying "FROM ACROSS THE STARS." Yes, the Mavericks are recruiting Dwight Howard with a goddamn fucking cartoon. The Rockets brought in Hakeem Olajuwon, James Harden, and Kevin McHale. The Mavericks are bringing in Homer Simpson, Fat Albert, and Gleek the Wonder Twins' Monkey. Seriously, I get it that we all think Dwight is just a big seven year old. He thinks farts are funny, he acts like a spoiled brat when he doesn't get his way, and he falls for word jokes like this:
say "eye yam stew peed" 4 times fast y'all gotta try this lol somebody jus got me
— Dwight Howard (@DwightHoward) May 10, 2013
But I would imagine that even Dwight had his "businessman" hat on in these free agency meetings, and the Mavericks' idea of enticing him is to do so with an animated sales pitch (and as we will find out shortly, not a very good one). If sales is indeed about knowing your audience, it's pretty clear, the Mavs thought Dwight was a seven foot tall, booger eating kindergartener.
0:15 -- "A HERO AND FUTURE MVP IS SENT TO EARTH." This line makes Mark Cuban's whole "we are better off without Dwight" thing even funnier. I mean, they were calling him a future MVP in their recruiting video! But Dwight said "No, thanks" so now, says Cuban, they're better off without a "future MVP" (his words) and instead with an appetizer platter of Monta Ellis, Sam Dalembert, Jose Calderon, Devin Harris, and Wayne Ellington. Yes, much the same way you're better off without a $100 bill and with five dimes instead.
0:18 -- A bright light careens toward earth and we can now tell, this is a Superman take off. You know, because Dwight liked wearing Superman's cape in the slam dunk contest like five years ago. It's too bad Johnny Manziel isn't an NBA free agent. I'd love to see the take off of Scooby Doo that Cuban would put together for him.
0:32 -- With what I'm assuming are the cartoon versions of Dwight's parents holding the cartoon version of Baby Dwight, we get our first glimpse of the animation effects of this video, and they appear to be about as impressive as the kids drawings found under the car seat of Aaron Hernandez's rental car. Damn, Cuban, you're a billionaire! You couldn't pull Matt Groening off a beach somewhere to try and "Simpson" this thing up a little bit? Or purchase Pixar and have them do the video? (Honestly, I think if a company created a two minute Simpsons episode starring me, I'd say "yes" to almost any job that didn't involve cleaning or handling human feces.)
0:37 -- "DNA IS JUST THE STARTING MECHANISM"....as Dwight knows all too well.
(By the way, "DNA IS JUST THE STARTING MECHANISM"?? As a line in a video that is supposed to be hip and cool? Really? Why not just cut to a slide of a biology professor breaking down a Punnett Square? Jeez.)
0:53 -- "THE FUTURE STARTS NOW" with a bat signal of the Mavs logo. Cuban is obviously just going to pepper Dwight with a barrage of superhero imagery, and hope nobody in the room asks "Ok, exactly whom do you expect to sign with all that 2014 cap space?"
0:59 -- "WITH A NEW PARTNERSHIP" and it's a picture of Cartoon Dwight with Cartoon Mark Cuban (who actually looks more like Jay Leno wearing a Mike Krzyzewski plastic hair wig)! Seriously, if you want a gauge on Mark Cuban's ego, just know that the first person other than Dwight (and Dwight's phony cartoon parents holding Baby Cartoon Dwight) to show up in the video is Cuban. And by the way, can you not just picture Dwight looking over at Cuban in the meeting when this scene comes up and sheepishly smiling in a cautiously creeped out way at him and Cuban smiling and winking at Dwight, as if to say "Dude, that cartoon version of you and me is so bad ass..., right?"
1:05 -- "HE IS KNOWN FOR HIS BURNING DESIRE TO WIN." Actually, he is known more for destroying Stan Van Gundy's coaching career, despising Kobe Bryant, and sulking his way out of Orlando and Los Angeles. That said, this is easily Dallas' best effort at anything in this whole video -- when in doubt, just lie and kiss Dwight's ass. It's the strategy most males use at bars around 1:30 a.m. to try and get laid.
1:10 -- "THE HERO'S JOURNEY...ALWAYS COMES TO A CROSSROADS." You have gotta be fucking kidding me. Hero?
1:21 -- A close up of Dwight's eyes, and congratu-fucking-lations, Cuban! You finally have actual animation in a cartoon. Something moved! You made Cartoon Dwight's eyelids open! Nice work.
1:31 -- If you had the OVER on 90 seconds until they would show a Maverick employee other than Cuban, cash your ticket. 91 seconds in and we finally get a still shot of a zombie version of Dirk Nowitzki heaving up a jump shot that, if the ball location in the drawing is accurate, will come up about ten feet short of the rim.
1:34 -- Ok, the part where the Mavs try to slip in how they want Dwight to "EMBRACE NEW IDEAS" is fantastic. Nothing like trying to subtly plant the seed that you're well aware of his coach killing history at his other stops, and would he please be open to suggestions from Rick Carlisle. You can almost see Cartoon Dwight rolling his eyes in the picture except that would require actual animation, and that ain't happening in this steaming pile of artistic turds.
1:38 -- Listen carefully, you can actually hear the fake cartoon announcer guy say "Howard for three!" which is awesome considering Dwight is 2 for 39 for his career from three point range. Too bad Steve Nash isn't a free agent, we could watch Cuban's cartoon recruiting video with all of his sick dunks.
1:45 -- The still shot of Dwight celebrating a title with...Dirk? No. Coach Carlisle? No. Mark Cuban? YES! This is the precise moment the video went from free agent recruiting pitch to somewhat creepy quasi-match.com shit. I was half expecting a Cuban cell phone camera dick shot to be spliced in for like one one hundredth of a second after this, just to get Dwight subliminally thinking about it.
1:53 -- "BEING A MAVERICK DOESN'T END WITH THE HALL OF FAME." Got that right. Ask all none of the Mavericks' Hall of Famers.
2:05 -- "BEING A MAVERICK ENDS WITH...GLOBAL DOMINATION..." Um, what does that even fucking mean? So being a Maverick doesn't culminate with reaching the pinnacle of your profession. Oh no, in Dallas, we don't stop until we've wiped the map clean of all the impoverished third world countries and declared prima nocta on all of Asia and Europe. Yes, Dwight, the Larry O'Brien Trophy is just the beginning. This ride doesn't end until you have lands and titles in China, Japan, England, France, and mother Russia!
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Honestly, the video ends and all I can see is Cuban with that douchy grin flipping the lights on in the meting room and looking at Dwight all cocky and asking "So, any questions, big man?"
And Dwight would answer him, except he's been on the phone with Daryl Morey from about the 1:34 second mark of this train wreck of a cartoon (at about the time the Mavericks wanted him to "EMBRACE NEW IDEAS") confirming that he wouldn't have to pay state income tax in Houston either.
Not surprisingly, Dallas was the first of the five finalists for Dwight eliminated. Now, we know why.
Listen to Sean Pendergast on 1560 Yahoo! Sports Radio from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. weekdays and nationally on the Yahoo! Sports Radio network Saturdays from 10 a.m. to noon CST. Also, follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/SeanCablinasian.