Staying put and building a winning team is the key to a long, lucrative professional basketball career, research shows.

The Twitter-verse and Internets are ablaze with those questioning—or if you're in Orlando, lauding—NBA star Dwight Howard's decision to stay with the Magic for at least one more year.  

After learning that Howard credits "praying and fasting" with helping him come to the decision to stay in Orlando, @Toure tweeted that "If prayer led Dwight to this decision then the angels answering his prayers are not business savvy."

Not so fast. Based on all the research I've seen, Dwight Howard made the right decision, business-wise and for the long-run of his superstar career.

Changing teams may mean more money in the short-term, but it can be risky for aspiring professional sports superstars, according to this comprehensive study. All-in-all, the optimal superstar career path is for a young player to stay put — to excel early, lead his team to more wins, and ultimately to a championship.

If a superstar does decide to make a change, the study cautions, he’d best be careful to jump to a championship caliber squad.

If the player is well-liked and the team is a winner, it can work. But the risks are substantial. Less established stars run the risk of being overshadowed by true mega-stars, like Chris Bosh, who was the centerpiece of the Toronto Raptors but is now a "third wheel" in Miami. And it can be risky for a true superstar, like LeBron James, who may have sacrificed four or five straight MVP titles because of the popular backlash over his move from Cleveland to "South Beach."

The best path appears to be the Dwyane Wade model, who brought the Heat their first title in just his third year when paired with Shaquille O’Neal, and later encouraged James and Bosh to join him in Miami.

Dwight Howard may have sacrificed some short-term dollars, but in terms of designing a sustainable long-term career as a superstar, he's following the playbook to a tee.

Top image: Reuters/Jason Miczek

About the Author

Most Popular

  1. Transportation

    Electric Scooters Aren’t a Transportation Revolution Yet

    New data show a staggering rise in shared dockless e-scooter use nationwide. But commuting habits have seen little change since the dawn of micromobility.

  2. a photo of a man surveying a home garage.

    How Single-Family Garages Can Ease California's Housing Crisis

    Given the affordable housing crisis, California cities should encourage single-family homeowners to convert garages into apartments and accessory dwelling units.

  3. Transportation

    Will Ottawa Ever Get Its Light Rail?

    Sinkholes, winter-weary trains, and political upheaval have held the Confederation Line light-rail transit back from a seriously overdue opening.

  4. Equity

    The Hidden Horror of Hudson Yards Is How It Was Financed

    Manhattan’s new luxury mega-project was partially bankrolled by an investor visa program called EB-5, which was meant to help poverty-stricken areas.

  5. a rendering of the moon village with a view of Earth

    Designing the First Full-Time Human Habitat on the Moon

    SOM, in partnership with the ESA and MIT, wants to accommodate research and maybe even tourism on the moon.