Anybody who watched the late Kobe Bryant’s career knows he was all business and no-nonsense on the basketball court. So, it’s no surprise that the tandem of Bryant and Dwight Howard didn’t work out when the Lakers acquired the big man back in 2012. Current ESPN analyst and former NBA player Jalen Rose was on All The Smoke w/Matt Barnes & Stephen and discussed the rift between Howard and Kobe during their brief stint together in Los Angeles.
Looking back on Howard going to LA to play with Kobe, it’s amazing that Bryant didn’t nix that deal to begin with. Howard’s personality never seemed like it would mesh well with Bryant’s. Howard’s silly, goofy, laid-back personality was closer to Shaquille O’Neal’s than Kobe’s. And everybody knows how that situation eventually fell apart with Shaq and Kobe. Although Shaq denies any animosity now, their issues have been well documented over the years.
But Bryant wanted to win and felt he needed a big man to do so. He’d won three in a row with Shaq early in his career, then another two with Pau Gasol playing down low. Kobe was just one championship away from his idol Michael Jordan when Howard came on board. But as Rose explains, after Bryant’s first phone call with Howard he said, “this shit ain’t gone work.” And Kobe was correct. The pairing of him and Howard did not work. The Lakers won 45 games in 2012-13 and were eliminated in the first round of the playoffs.
Hearing Rose talk about Bryant is funny sometimes because although they were friends, Jalen might be best known by Kobe fans for getting lit up by the Black Mamba for 81 points during a regular-season game in January of 2006. Rose has taken the roasting over that game in stride and even did a commercial with Kobe, centered around that game years later.
Knowing how intense Bryant was on the hoop court, it really boggles the mind now as to why the Lakers thought him and Howard would ever work. Maybe they just weren’t paying attention during the early years of Howard in the NBA. Talent is one thing, but personalities still matter when assembling a team. When you’re attempting to piece together a championship contender, it might help to bring in guys that will mesh well with your superstar. Otherwise, it just ends up being an exercise in futility the way this experiment was in LA.