Also making the fans just as happy was Kobe Bryant attending the game with his daughter, Gianna Bryant.
Bryant will always be one of — if not — the most beloved Laker of all-time and he got a raucous ovation from the Staples Center crowed. Many Lakers went over to pay respects including James and Anthony Davis. Howard also had a moment with his former teammate before the game.
Obviously, Howard and Bryant’s relationship was contentious for some time, but the two have had nothing but positive things to say over the past few months and the two had a funny exchange prior to the win.
“I didn’t even know who it was. He slapped me on the neck… I was about to elbow him, but then he said, ‘Hey, what’s up man, you’re playing good,'” Howard shared.
“I’m glad he came to the game, it was a lot of fun having him in the building. The crowd was going ham so it was great to have him.”
The crowd certainly showed their love to Bryant as he got a standing ovation and was again cheered as he left near the end of the game. Everyone remembers how Howard and Bryant left off, but the former insists all of the hostility is a thing of the past.
“It doesn’t matter, that’s the past. You know this is a new age, new day, and we’re all about positive vibes,” Howard said.
In addition to their issues while playing together, Howard and Bryant also had a dustup in a later regular season game as the former swung an elbow by the latter’s face and the two had to be separated. This famously led to the viral gif of Bryant calling Howard ‘soft.’
However, everyone grows and matures and eventually begins to see things differently. Howard is a different person than he was in 2013 and the only thing he is focused on is winning a championship with the Lakers during the 2019-20 NBA season.
There was a time when Howard was the most despised player in the NBA among Lakers fans. Now, those same people are cheering him on as he continues to impress in his second stint and he and Bryant coming together at Staples Center is just everything coming full circle.