The 2012-13 Los Angeles Lakers were built to win a championship. General manager Mitch Kupchak pulled out all the stops to bring in Steve Nash and Dwight Howard to play alongside Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol, but the superstar combination simply didn’t work out as planned.
With Dwight on the verge of entering the playoffs for the second straight season with the Houston Rockets, the three-time Defensive Player of the Year talked about his relationship with Kobe from his only season with the Lakers. Howard continued to emphasize how the two stars were different in terms of their approach to the game and competing for championships, via Ben Golliver of Sports Illustrated:
“It wasn’t that I was uncomfortable with who [Bryant] was as a player or a person, that was never the issue to me,” Howard said. “I think that kind of gets twisted because of how things ended up. Everybody on that team got injured. I think we had five games together before somebody was injured. … I didn’t have an issue back then how Kobe was. Kobe wanted to win as badly as I did. Our personalities are different. I’m not a guy who is going to go off on my teammates. I tried that approach and for me it didn’t work. For Kobe, it works. He’s won a couple championships. He’s also played with some great talent. For the most part, it just wasn’t the time for us to win.”
As Dwight mentioned, the Lakers were unable to stay healthy during the 2012-13 NBA season with most of the prominent players on the team dealing with injuries throughout the entire season. This was one of the main reasons their championship aspirations never came to fruition and unfortunately it convinced Howard there was a better opportunity to win now with the Rockets.
As for Kobe’s combative attitude toward teammates to get the best out them, it obviously didn’t sit well with the veteran center. Howard couldn’t function the same way with the Lakers with the pressure of Bryant’s demands hanging over him.
The only problem is with five NBA titles to his credit, a “couple” according to Dwight’s quote, it be safe to say Kobe knows what he’s doing. Listening or attempting to adapt to a winning culture might of been a wise course of action for Howard who failed to win with the Orlando Magic and has regressed since leaving Los Angeles.[divide]