Anyone who watched the Los Angeles Lakers last season knows that Kobe Bryant and Dwight Howard were far from being best friends. Howard and Kobe got along about as well as Bryant and Shaq got along during their time together, only the disagreements were magnified by the team’s lack of success.
During a recent conversation with ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith, Howard admitted that he had a tough time playing with Kobe.
“Was it tough playing with Kobe? he said, per Pro Basketball Talk. “Yea, it was very tough. But playing along with Kobe didn’t have any parts of my decision going to Houston. I just felt like Houston was a better situation for me and my career. Me and Kobe, we had our disagreements, we had our moments. Everybody knows Kobe likes to score and there were times we would get at it about getting the ball. And that happens on a team.”
I don’t think there’s any question that Howard did not want to play with Kobe anymore. Kobe stated publicly that he wanted him to stay, but when it came down to it his sales pitch was pretty weak. One report even indicated Howard was looking for the Lakers to move past the Bryant era. However, Howard said he has no one to blame but himself for his lackluster performance on the court last season.
“My focus cannot be on Kobe and what he did,” Howard continued. “I have to look back at myself and say I allowed that situation to happen. I could go get those balls. I could do whatever I want because I’m capable of doing it. So I can’t blame anybody else for anything I’ve done on the court. I have to own up to it.
When it came down to signing a multiyear extension, Kobe’s plans to play for several more seasons may have deterred Dwight. But there is one thing that could have convinced him to stay. When Stephen A. asked Howard if he would have stayed if LA brought back Phil Jackson, he stopped just short of admitting it would have changed his mind.
“I think he would have put the team in the right direction,” Howard said. “Having him would have been great — great for me and great for my career.”
We already know how Howard felt about playing for Mike D’Antoni, but hindsight won’t change anything. For all the things I dislike about Howard, I can’t blame him for leaving LA. If he truly wasn’t comfortable there — because of D’Antoni, Kobe or other factors — he would have accomplished nothing by staying.
Here’s video of Howard’s interview with Smith: