The first of Dwight Howard’s two tours of duty with the Los Angeles Lakers ended after a single season in 2013, with Howard now indicating that a power struggle between him and the late Kobe Bryant caused them to butt heads.
Howard, who rejoined the Lakers prior to the 2019-20 season, spoke with teammate Jared Dudley during an Instagram Live session and lamented (at the 12:50 mark) the fact that the two players’ egos helped fuel the conflict between them during that time.
“I know that I approached that season wanting to be the best version of myself and also the man,” Howard said. “You know, I’m young, I just felt like that at the time. It was really hard for me and Kobe to really communicate. I think we were just at two different mental stages.”
When Howard joined the Lakers prior to the 2012-13 campaign, he was 26 years old, had played in six All-Star games for the Orlando Magic and led the league in rebounding four times.
Bryant was set to begin his 17th season in the NBA, all with the Lakers, and had been a key part of five NBA championships with the team. That legacy and Bryant’s fiery approach to the game served to light the fuse for problems with Howard.
During that lone season with the Lakers, Howard actually led the NBA with an average of 12.4 rebounds per game. However, he was still struggling to recover from offseason surgery to repair a herniated disc.
That turmoil between Howard and Bryant ended up with the Lakers losing to the San Antonio Spurs in the first round of the playoffs, followed by Howard’s departure in free agency to the Houston Rockets.
Howard returned to the Lakers less than a year ago and while his overall numbers are much lower than those in his prime, he’s in a much better frame of mind.
Bryant’s shocking death in January prevented Howard from being able to let him know that despite their issues, he had deep respect for the Lakers legend.
Howard is hoping to get the opportunity to help the Lakers compete for an NBA title, though official word on if and when the NBA season will resume has yet to be given.