Dwight Howard‘s history with the Los Angeles Lakers features a not-so-grandiose first stint playing alongside Hall of Famer Kobe Bryant. The two stars saw their on-court relationship sour, leading to an infamous moment of Bryant calling Howard “soft.” It took years for eight-time All-Star to realize the true intention of Bryant’s harsh words.
Dwight Howard and Kobe Bryant tension stems from Lakers’ stint together
After months of speculation, the Lakers acquired Howard in a four-team trade in August 2012 as part of their aged Super Team.
However, the star big man’s tenure didn’t unfold as intended as the Lakers fell well short of competing for an NBA title. Instead, the focus remained on the conflict-filled relationship between him and Bryant. The two never truly saw eye to eye on the court, contributing significantly to his departure after one season.
In the years that followed, Howard voiced his appreciation for Bryant’s stern comments toward him.
Dwight Howard remains forever indebted to Kobe Bryant: ‘Thank you for saying that I was soft’
After Howard departed from the Lakers, the tension between him and Bryant remained.
It boiled over into a moment on the court between the two stars in October 2014 as Howard swung his elbows after a rebound as Bryant defended him. The two exchanged words, with Bryant seen verbally calling the eight-time All-Star “soft” and telling him to “try me.”
Although nothing came from the moment on the court, Howard voiced in an interview with FS1’s Fair Game in October 2019 that he’s grateful for the former Lakers great’s comments directed toward him.
“He had a comment that I was soft and I think for years I kind of hated him for saying that because I looked at the wrong way,” Howard said. “I think he was talking more so my mentality. Not my physic or how I am on the court. I didn’t realize that because of the noise surrounding him saying I was soft. I hated it and I hated him for that moment.
“Then I realized what he was talking about I said ‘Oh okay that’s it. I get it now.’ So everybody reaches different levels of maturity at different times. I think at that time, I was ignorant to the level he was at. I appreciate you, Kobe. Thank you for saying that I was soft. I didn’t realize what you meant until now.”
Howard’s approach to the game contrasts with Bryant’s as that he didn’t realize the true nature of the star guard’s remarks. It took years for him to truly understand the intended nature of being called him soft. If anything, the situation helped him grow and mature into the person he’s become later in his career.
Third Lakers’ stint fixated on winning another NBA title
Over the last few years, Howard‘s career has taken a different path.
He’s moved from being a star player to becoming a highly dependable bench option, which he’s fully embraced the transition. It allowed him to play a critical part in the frontcourt to lift the Lakers to the 2020 NBA title.
After a season away, Howard chose to return for his third stint with Los Angeles. With the experience of winning a championship under his belt, the 35-year-old voiced plenty of excitement concerning what may lie ahead.
“I’m super excited, I love this city,” Howard said via Lakers Nation. “I think that it fits me well and just looking forward to being whatever I need to be for this team to win. We’ve had experience winning together before, myself, AD and LeBron, so I think we kind of have that chemistry.
“And then playing with Carmelo in the Olympics, I think it’s just gonna be really awesome for us. I’m just looking forward to just this whole year. We’ve got Trevor, we’ve been friends since we were 15 years old playing high school against each other. Played on the same team twice in Orlando and Houston and now here in L.A. together. So this is amazing.”
Howard should quickly fit into the fold in the same role he held in the 2019-20 season as a primary option off the bench. He will bring much-needed rim protection along with being a substantial factor in the pick-and-roll.
Beyond that, Howard could play a pivotal spot toward helping push the Lakers to an 18th NBA title.