(via OpenCourt-Basketball)

The return of Superman is one of the most anticipated events of the upcoming All-Star weekend in Chicago. Dwight Howard, who is now 34, will be making his first return to the dunk contest since the 2009 season, the year following his victory in the 2008 contest.

While we don’t know what he has planned yet, it is confirmed that he had called in some reinforcements.

In a heartbreaking confession to reporters, Dwight revealed that he recruited the now-deceased Kobe Bryant to help him in the Kia Slam Dunk contest.

“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 said after the Lakers’ 129-102 blowout win over the Spurs on Tuesday night at Staples Center. “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.

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.”

The world is still mourning the death of Kobe, 5x Champion, former MVP, and 18x All-Star. On the court, he seemed to have an ongoing rivalry with many players including Dwight Howard.

Today we’re finding out that these “rivalries” may be nothing more than Bryant’s competitive basketball spirit.

So, as Howard competes in the upcoming All-Star festivities, there will be a Kobe sized hole in not only the hearts of fans, but also of his fiercest competitors — Howard included.