The two were teammates during the 2012-13 season, but Howard’s tenure with the Lakers was short, as he bolted for the Houston Rockets in free agency after one season in the purple and gold. While there was some tension while Howard was still on the team, the beef between the two boiled over when they clashed at Staples Center the following season.
The two appeared to have mended their relationship recently, reconnecting at a Lakers game. However, when Bryant tragically died in a helicopter accident that killed eight others — including his daughter Gianna — Howard was heartbroken.
“A lot of people thought that me and Kobe hated each other and stuff like that. There were times where we just didn’t understand each other,” Howard told reporters after the Lakers’ 129-102 win against the San Antonio Spurs on Tuesday. “You know, I didn’t get a chance to tell him how appreciative I was for our time together. And (how) thankful, you know, I was to be back here in LA and stuff like that.
“That was pretty hard for me. I took it pretty hard, the death of Kobe. My heart is with the family and all the families that were affected and Lakers Nation.”
Kobe Bryant Was Going to Help Dwight Howard in Dunk Contest
Howard is having a resurgent season with the Lakers, averaging 7.5 points and 7.8 rebounds in just a shade under 20 minutes off the bench. He has also collected 1.4 blocks, providing a key defensive presence for the team.
It was revealed this week that Howard would be participating in the dunk contest, which he won in 2008. The Lakers big-man revealed on Tuesday that he was going to have help from Bryant in the event.
“It’s really hard for myself to put into words how I felt about the situation,” Howard told reporters. “I never thought that I would see a teammate of mine in the past pass away at such a young age. It hit me hard. I was extremely hurting.
“All year long I just wanted to show him that I would do whatever it takes to help this team,” Howard said. “I wore his shoes since the season started. I wanted him in the dunk contest. You, know all these things. And just to see him go away, just like that. … For all of us here we got to be appreciative for the time we have on this earth. We can take any moment, take any body or take any thing for granted.”
Dwight Howard Dedicates Season to Kobe Bryant
While Howard just recently broke his silence Bryant’s death to the media, his first reaction to the news came out on Instagram.
“Brothers fight, argue even hate each other at times. But we never stop loving each other. I love you, WE love you. Thank you for inspiring the world in so many ways. People let’s make sure we tell each other daily that we love each other. We never know what can happen in life. Let’s appreciate life and each other while we are here. I’m damn shole gonna miss Kobe and Gigi sitting court side watching us this season. May you Rest In Peace Kobe and Gigi. This season is dedicated To Kobe.”
Bryant’s death transcended the sports world, with admirers around the globe mourning his untimely death.
“For 20 seasons, Kobe showed us what is possible when remarkable talent blends with an absolute devotion to winning,” NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said. “He was one of the most extraordinary players in the history of our game with accomplishments that are legendary … but he will be remembered most for inspiring people around the world to pick up a basketball and compete to the very best of their ability.”