In the summer of 2012, the Los Angeles Lakers traded for Dwight Howard, an All-Star center who many though could carry the franchise after Kobe Bryant retired. Unfortunately, things did not go according to plan as Howard ultimately left in free agency to the Houston Rockets.
In an interview with Bill Simmons and Jalen Rose on Grantland, Simmons asked the five-time champion if he would do anything differently about being Howard’s teammate:
Zero. Absolutely zero. Nothing. I learned how to be a leader by watching Magic, Bird, Michael and those guys. They’re relentless and they’re ruthless. For me to give the keys of this kingdom to the next leader that’s going to lead this Lakers organization for generations to come, has to have that same DNA. I can’t be apologetic about that.
During the 2012-13 NBA season, Kobe and Howard did not see eye-to-eye as a result of their leadership styles. While the Lakers struggled most of the season, the two eventually were able to be on the same page and led the Lakers to a 28-12 record after the All-Star break. Unfortunately, Kobe suffered a ruptured Achilles late in the season and the Lakers were swept in the first round of the playoffs by the San Antonio Spurs.
While the Lakers attempted to re-sign Howard during the off-season, he ultimately signed with the Rockets. Although the Lakers have struggled since his departure, the franchise has a potential top-five pick in this year’s draft that will likely feature Jahlil Okafor from Duke along with ample cap space to pursue big-name free agents.[divide]