The strained relationship between Kobe Bryant and Dwight Howard during the 2012-13 Los Angeles Lakers season has been well-documented and was on display during last year’s season opener.
With Kobe retiring at the end of this season, the Lakers took on the Houston Rockets for the first time last night. With both players exchanging hugs and briefly talking after the 126-97 loss, the five-time champion shared it was nothing personal when discussing his relationship with Howard.
Following their first matchup of the season, Howard shared his point of view and called his former teammate ‘one of the greatest players to ever play the game’ according to Calvin Watkins of ESPN:
“I think everybody made it seem like we just hated each other,” Howard said after his 18-point, 12-rebound night. “There’s no need for us to hate each other. This is his last season — congratulate him on that — and I basically wanted to see if he wanted to get more 3s up. He had shot a couple. That’s what I was talking about at halftime with him. He’s one of the greatest players to ever play the game.”
While the two players could not resolve their differences during their lone season together, it appears they are ready to move on. Since Howard left in free agency, the Lakers have been rebuilding while the Rockets have failed to make the NBA Finals.
Since his announcement to retire at the end of the season, Kobe is at peace with winning five championships and has been enjoying his farewell tour. While the five-time champion is on pace for his worst shooting percentages of his career, he is shooting 47.3 percent in the past four games.
In 21 games, Kobe is averaging 16.2 points, 4.2 rebounds and 3.3 assists.