Back in 2012, the Los Angeles Lakers were built to win a championship. The former front office duo of Mitch Kupchak and Jim Buss surrounded Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol with two proven stars in Dwight Howard and Steve Nash.
Unfortunately, things didn’t go as planned. After one season of this star-studded squad, Howard left the team in free agency, Nash had finally broken down physically, and Bryant was nursing a torn Achilles tendon.
Along with all that happened during the drama-filled 2012-13 NBA season, Bryant and Howard never saw eye-to-eye with completely different approaches to the game. Both players didn’t seem all that fond of each other after playing alongside one another in Los Angeles, but Howard claims there was never an issue between the two admitting to Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated that he hasn’t talked to Kobe:
I haven’t … There was never an issue with me and him. The same thing I told him is the same thing I told Steve Nash and every one of those guys. I want to learn from them. I want to take as much knowledge as I can from y’all. One day when y’all out the league and I’m still playing, I can give that knowledge to somebody else and I can keep this thing going. I’ve never had an issue with [Bryant].
Although Howard plays it off as if there was never a problem between him and Bryant, the on-court scuffles and harsh words exchanged on the floor seem to tell another story. Kobe famously called Dwight “soft” and challenged him to “try me” during their dustup back in 2014. Bryant also comically called his former teammate a “teddy bear” in the postgame press conference.
Of course with Bryant getting to know how Howard’s mind worked during their one season together in Los Angeles, he knew how to get under his skin and used it to his advantage. After Dwight had left for the Houston Rockets, Bryant made it clear he didn’t care that Howard moved on, but the former Laker was always sensitive about the subject and all the backlash he received from Lakers fans for leaving the storied franchise.
Following a short stint with the Houston Rockets in which Howard found it hard to coexist with another superstar in James Harden, the veteran center signed with his hometown Atlanta Hawks. Howard told Spears he hopes to play 20 years much like Bryant did before retiring following the 2015-16 campaign.