World Peace Says Kobe’s Desire To Play Longer Influenced Dwight’s Decision

nl_lakers08Throughout the process of Dwight Howard’s free agency earlier this summer, former Laker (via amnesty) Metta World Peace always claimed that the center would return to Los Angeles.

However, as time has passed since Howard made his decision to sign with the Houston Rockets, a little light has been shed over his reasoning to leave the Lakers and his experience with the team in his lone season with the purple and gold.

In a new interview with the L.A. Daily News’ Mark Medina, Metta World Peace shares how he knew that Dwight was going to choose the Rockets after Kobe Bryant made it publicly known while he was in Brazil recently that he wants to play past his contract expiration date, which is at the end of the upcoming season. In fact, Kobe claims that he can see himself playing an additional three to four years.

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As Metta shared with Medina on the set of a Hallmark Channel series in Los Angeles:

“I always knew Dwight was going to Houston. Things weren’t clicking. Once Kobe said he could come back for three years, I knew Dwight was going to Houston.”

While there have been reports and assumptions that Dwight Howard wanted to be the immediate face of the franchise and didn’t want to play in Kobe’s shadow in Los Angeles, Metta offered the following reasoning:

“It’s not about being the guy,” World Peace said. “It’s about clicking. Dwight never wanted to be the guy. Dwight did have some flaws just like anybody. Everybody has flaws. But Dwight just wanted to be comfortable. He wasn’t comfortable [here]. But once that happened [with Bryant’s comments], I knew Dwight wasn’t coming back. I knew he wasn’t going to come back.”

Team chemistry is such a valuable intangible that determines a team’s success or failure. Going into last season, the Lakers were the favorites to win the championship for most, at least reach the Finals for others. Enormous expectations were placed on the 2012-13 Lakers team simply because of their talent. Of course, the massive amount of consistent injuries played a role in their struggles, but the lack of chemistry played its role as well, as Metta pointed out:

“Our team needed to have chemistry right away. We should’ve because we’re all vets. It’s a shame that we didn’t.”

The Lakers are in a bit of a rebuilding phase as the franchise looks to build a competitive roster on a tighter budget, which is unusual territory for the organization. While this season’s expectations are drastically different than last year’s, the Lakers and fans are also looking to move on from the Dwight situation.

The Lakers’ front office has done a solid job of signing free agents so far this offseason considering the limited financial contracts they can offer. What has been most refreshing for the fans and the franchise to hear has been the reoccurring theme from every new player signed, which is that they want to be here and took less money to be a Laker. Team chemistry is already improved.


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