Kobe Bryant opens up about Dwight Howard leaving the Lakers
When Kobe Bryant recently met with Dwight Howard to convince him to stay with the Lakers, Bryant said his expectations weren’t very high.
“I really didn’t know what to expect to be honest with you,” Bryant said Wednesday at his summer camp in Santa Barbara. “I walked in there and everybody’s sitting down and everybody’s quiet, I don’t know what the hell is going on. Everybody is just really ... serious. It was really pretty funny to me.”
Bryant didn’t go into detail about what they discussed, but he said they had a “good conversation.”
“I don’t know if he was leaning one way or another, I don’t know,” Bryant said of Howard.
When Howard announced that he was going to leave the Lakers, Bryant unfollowed the center on Twitter.
“Listen man, it’s just me, that’s just how I am,” Bryant said. “That’s just how I am. I have a hard time following people that want to beat us. Not to say that we’re not friends or I don’t respect him or anything like that.”
In fact, Bryant said he doesn’t harbor any resentment against Howard for choosing Houston.
“I’m happy for him,” Bryant said. “I’ve said that before. I’m happy for him. It’s important for free agents to make decisions that they feel are best for them, that’s really what it’s all about. When you’re a free agent, you have to make decisions that are best for you, best for your family and best for your brand, whatever it may be. It is what it is.”
Not many people decide to leave the Lakers, and Bryant didn’t want to guess why the center chose to.
“You really think once a guy decides to go somewhere else I’m going to waste my time trying to figure out why that happened?”
Steve Nash, on the other hand, put some thought into why Howard left, recently telling ESPN 710 that he didn’t think he was comfortable with the team.
“Steve is the quintessential teammate,” Bryant said. “Steve takes that stuff to heart. I really don’t care.”
In addition to talking about Howard, Bryant took a few moments to talk about his Achilles’ injury and rehabilitation.
“It’s good, progressing a bit faster than everybody expected,” Bryant said.
Bryant said this injury is different than any challenge he’s ever encountered.
“For me, there has been a lot of emotional things that you have to bounce back from, but never something this serious from a physical standpoint.”
He said his movement is limited, but he expects to be more active with conditioning in August.
“I could shoot right now, but we just don’t trust that the tendon’s holding yet. Typically it’s four months minimum until it the tendon is holding and it’s not going to overstretch. So we’ll just wait.”
As for what the Lakers need to do to become a championship-caliber team once again, Bryant said it’s about plugging holes.
“I feel like length, speed, was an issue for us, being able to cover ground,” Bryant said. “If we could get a couple of guys who have that length and the ability to cover ground on the defensive end of the floor, I think we’ll be all right.”
Considering Bryant’s injury and Howard’s decision to leave L.A., some people are chalking up next season as a wasted year and looking forward to 2014 when the Lakers will have about $50 million in salary cap space.
Bryant, of course, is not among them. “We have no shot,” he said, sarcastically.
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