Back in 2009, Dwight Howard was the league’s best and hottest young center.
That season, he won the Defensive Player of the Year award, then led his Orlando Magic to the NBA Finals, where they lost to Kobe Bryant’s Lakers.
Now that he himself is a member of the Purple and Gold, Howard sat down for an interview with The Athletic where he revealed that Bryant gave him some advice after that championship series.
“What should I do to get better?” Howard recalls asking Bryant.
“He was like: ‘What you mean? You’re already one of the best in the world. What do you mean? Continue to do what you’re doing, continue to play hard. Work on the elbow jump shot and bank shots.’ I was like, ‘Well, how many shots do you shoot in a day?’ He said he used to make 1,000 shots a day. That’s what I started doing: Shooting and making 1,000 jump shots a day. And the next year (2010-11), I was second in the MVP (race, behind Derrick Rose).
“I’ll never forget that. The reason why he said do that wasn’t because he wanted me to shoot all jump shots — it was more so the will.”
In his illustrious 20-year career, Bryant’s work ethic, determination and will became the stuff of legend.
Howard, of course, played with Bryant in the 2012-13 season, yet the two didn’t get along, while a promising season was greatly derailed by numerous injuries.
Howard bounced around from team to team for years and gained a reputation as a social pariah.
The Lakers took another chance on him this past summer, and it seemed like it was Howard’s last chance to redeem himself.
For the first time in what seems like forever, he’s been a positive influence on his team, and now he’ll have a shot at his first NBA championship.