This isn't Dwight Howard's first stint in Los Angeles. In 2012, Howard played for the Purple and Gold under very different circumstances and very different leadership. It was first Kobe Bryant, and then LeBron James. Dwight knows a thing or two about playing with both.
In a post-game discussion with the media, Dwight spoke about his time with each basketball legend.
“He’s our leader,” Howard said of James. “He has to continue to play at a high level for us to win every night. He’s been providing us with great offense. On the defensive end, he’s been doing a lot better job of contesting, but also playing great one-on-one defense.”
“I just appreciate everybody on the team,” Howard said. “We’ve all had opportunities to where we were ‘that guy’ or whatever. LeBron is in that position. He doesn’t abuse it. He’s done an excellent job of coming in every day working. Been a great leader, but also he listens. He pushes us. We push him, and our job is to make each other better.
“So having a great teammate and a great leader in LeBron just made our team a lot better.”
Interestingly enough, the Lakers big man had a lot less to say about Kobe.
“I didn’t even know who it was,” Dwight said about Kobe coming up to him. “He slapped me on the neck. I was about to elbow him, but then he said, ‘What’s up, man? You playing good.’ It was cool, man. I’m glad he came to the game. It was a lot of fun to have him in the building. The crowd was going ham, so it was great to have him.”
“It doesn’t matter,” Howard said about hard feelings towards Bryant. “That’s the past. This is a new age. A new day. All about positive vibes.”
Clearly, Dwight is leaving all the negative stuff behind. And his time with the Lakers, and Kobe, in 2012-13 was, indeed, very negative.
There was tension between him and Kobe, and it seems there was a disconnect on what each player wanted to do on the court. The Lakers barely squeezed into the playoffs that year and were quickly bounced by San Antonio in the first round.
Under LeBron, things appear to be a lot easier for Dwight. He is having an amazing bounce-back year.