As everyone knows, poor team chemistry and injuries eventually led to Howard signing with the Houston Rockets.
With the Lakers missing the NBA playoffs and Howard playing for four different teams since, there were debates when the two sides reunited after seven seasons.
However, to begin the 2019-20 season, Howard has kept his word and Bryant has taken notice of his former teammate now, according to Arash Markazi of Los Angeles Times:
“I’m happy for him because sometimes we don’t realize how much we love the game and miss the game until that window starts closing or its closed,” Bryant said. “Then you’re like, ‘Oh damn, I really miss playing the game. I want another opportunity to show what I can do.’ Sometimes you don’t know if that opportunity will ever come again. For him, I really believe he’s appreciative of the opportunity and I think he’s going to make a hell of an impact because of the new appreciation he has for playing the game.”
In Howard’s first stint, he was easily the league’s best center. However, he was coming off offseason back surgery and could not accept his role as the team’s second option.
As the Lakers were forced to rebuild through the NBA Draft, Howard had similar issues with other teams and Los Angeles gave him perhaps one more chance in the NBA.
While there may still be skepticism among some fans, Howard’s words have turned into action in his second stint. Coming off the bench behind JaVale McGee for head coach Frank Vogel, he has embraced being a star in his role.
In the team’s win against the Charlotte Hornets, it was a vintage performance for Howard as he finished with 16 points, 10 rebounds, and four blocks in just 22 minutes.
And in three games so far, the 33-year-old is averaging 7.0 points, 7.7 rebounds, and 2.3 blocks in just 20.3 minutes.
Although there is a long way to go during an 82-game season, there is growing optimism Howard will be a key contributor and ultimately redeem himself for his first stint.