We all know Dwight Howard’s stint with the Los Angeles Lakers didn’t play out the way the team wanted… and now, as he enters free agency again, he addresses the topic.
In an interview with ESPN, the NBA star opened up about his time in Los Angeles and playing alongside Kobe Bryant.
Obviously, the two stars didn’t get along, and the friction ended with Howard leaving for the Houston Rockets during the summer of 2013.
What went wrong? For starters, Howard says the Lakers didn’t value “team chemistry”, while brushing off the perception that there was in a power struggle over who the star was.
“When I got to L.A. [in 2012], they told me, ‘You don’t need team chemistry. You just need to be able to play basketball together,'” Howard said. “So which is it? It’s confusing.”
“I wanted Kobe and me to work,” he added. “I just think we were at two different points of our careers. When I went there, people warned me, ‘Dwight, you gotta realize Kobe still wants to be the star.’ My response was, ‘Fine.’ I said the same thing to Steve [Nash]. I wanted to learn from those guys. I wasn’t trying to outshine them.”
Howard later talked about how Kobe would challenge him through the media, specifically about his injuries.
“Kobe put some pressure on me,” he said. “He said something like, ‘We don’t have time for Dwight to be hurt.’ The media is asking me, ‘Did you talk to Kobe about your injuries?’ I said, ‘I didn’t realize I was supposed to check with another player about my health.’ When I first got there, I said to Kobe in front of the whole team, ‘The only way we win is if we put our egos aside and play together.’ I wanted to play with him. I don’t know if he didn’t want to play with me—if he felt I wasn’t a killer like him.”
As far as resigning, Howard said that while the Lakers wanted him to return, he just didn’t like the way he was treated with the team.
“I just felt like it wasn’t a team,” he explained. “I wanted a team. There were things that went on during the season that made me feel like I wasn’t a part of it, like the thing with Kobe and my shoulder. People were saying, ‘Dwight’s so strong, he’s Superman, he should play through it.’ It was a torn labrum. I should have had surgery, but I didn’t. I came back instead. I’ll never forget the game we played against the Celtics in Boston [on Feb. 7, 2013]. I hadn’t practiced for a while — I had just been working on the treadmill. But I played in Boston. We got blown out. Coach [Mike D’Antoni] still had me in when we were down 30. After the game, I’m walking off the court and a Lakers fan throws his jersey and hits me in the face. It was my name on that jersey. I will never forget that the rest of my life.”
You can check out the whole interview here.