The Los Angeles Lakers briefly reunited with a couple of former players on Thursday when they faced Danny Green and Dwight Howard in the 109-101 loss to the Philadelphia 76ers.
The two veterans left L.A. after celebrating the NBA title in the Orlando bubble together last year. Green ended up in Philadelphia via Oklahoma City as part of the Dennis Schroder trade. Howard joined the Sixers as a free agent after he couldn’t come to an agreement over a new contract with the Lakers.
But even though they represented different colors on Thursday, head coach Frank Vogel said before the game he still has a soft spot for the two former brothers in arms.
“I love those guys. They’re family,” he said. “Won a championship with them. It’s bittersweet. It was sad to see them go and to me those are two relationships that I’ll value forever. It’s always going to be great to see those guys and be fun competing against them.”
Vogel said that L.A. will forever be indebted to Green and Howard for their contribution both on and off the floor. On the way to the franchise’s 17th NBA title, the Lakers famously became one of the most tight-knit groups in the NBA.
And the coach credited the team’s former duo for their part in developing the extraordinary chemistry. “They’re a big part of what we did last year winning the championship just building a culture,” he said. “We were a group that came together, many of us for the first time as a group.
“Those guys buy-in and the commitment to building the chemistry necessary to win a championship was pivotal, so I’ll always be grateful. Lakers fans should always be grateful for their contributions and it’ll be fun to see those guys tonight.”
Although there were no fans in attendance, Green and Howard got their championship rings before the game on Thursday night, via Allen Sliwa of ESPN:
Cool moment for Dwight & Green… pic.twitter.com/FlByIBXXAy
— Allen Sliwa (@AllenSliwa) March 26, 2021
Green then proceeded to torch his former team for eight 3-pointers and 28 points, including the dagger in the final minute to secure the win for Philadelphia.
Howard, on the other hand, had a much shorter night as he saw himself ejected after the first quarter, picking up two technical fouls for getting into it with Montrezl Harrell.
Caldwell-Pope shares praise for former teammates
Lakers guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, who was also a key member of the 2020 championship team, was excited to be back in the same building with his former teammates.
“It was great to see those guys. We had a hell of a year last year. Just to see those guys happy, getting their rings, it was good. Great energy for me, always good seeing those guys and talking to them and everything.
Caldwell-Pope also commented on the opposite nights that Howard and Green had against the Lakers.
“We knew Dwight, he likes to play around and stuff,” Caldwell-Pope joked. “But Danny, man, he shot the hell out of the ball tonight. Props to Danny.”
The 76ers are playing some great basketball right now, so there is certainly a possibility that the Lakers see them again down the road in the NBA Finals if both teams are able to get healthy, which would make for a very interesting matchup of former teammates.
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