Dwight Howard watched how the derision dissipated for LeBron James how the mocking turned back into marvel. The path to a superstar's public cleansing for past immaturities and missteps on free agency's jagged journey doesn't rise out of clever commercials and endless explanations.

Championships changed the framing of LeBron James and an NBA title promises to be the sole basketball salvation for the league's best center.

"Last year I felt like I was the villain" Howard told Yahoo Sports. "Now I feel like I'm an even bigger villain."

Most of all victory validates the villain. It promises to free Howard. That's the burden of this NBA now. Born of a belief these players and coaches and management offer him the best chance at a championship Howard has come to the Houston Rockets with an eye eastward.