The infamous “Now this is going to be fun” Los Angeles Lakers team of 2012-2013 never lived up to the lofty expectations that were placed upon them when they came together. On paper, the thought was that a quartet of Steve Nash, Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol, and Dwight Howard would be unstoppable, but as injuries took their toll, the team wound up barely making the playoffs before being unceremoniously swept by the San Antonio Spurs.
Another factor that was rumored to be near the center of the team’s problems was an ever-growing rift between guard Bryant and big man Howard. The two didn’t agree on the floor and their contrasting personalities – Bryant the driven perfectionist and Howard the grinning prankster – ultimately led to Howard fleeing to the Houston Rockets as a free agent after spending just one year in Los Angeles. However, Howard took to Twitter to deny the notion that he and Bryant had any such issues:
we didn't beef. Since we were losing they needed a story that would sell
— Dwight Howard (@DwightHoward) July 16, 2017
Of course, that season’s Lakers will live on in infamy not just for underachieving, but also for being the year that Bryant put the team on his back and dragged them to the playoffs, but tragically tore his Achilles just before the end of the regular season. It was the last truly great Bryant season that fans witnessed.
While Howard contends that he and Bryant didn’t have issues, there was an incident during the 2014-2015 season when Howard elbowed a defending Bryant in the chin after securing a rebound, which prompted Bryant to call him “soft”.
Howard’s personality, combined with his demands for touches in the post, likely didn’t sit well with Bryant, who already struggled in a similar situation with former teammate Shaquille O’Neal. It’s certainly possible that the rift wasn’t as big of an issue as it was made out to be, but it seems far-fetched to suggest that the two didn’t have any problems with each other.