The interactions between Dwight Howard and Kobe Bryant usually ended up this way.
Bryant would usually scold Howard for not bringing enough intensity. Howard would usually lament that Bryant didn’t pass him the ball enough. Bryant often expressed frustration Howard allowed his respective back and shoulder injuries to affect his mindset. Howard often expressed frustration Bryant didn’t give him enough credit for playing through them.
On and on it went. The Lakers never will find out whether that partnership could improve.
Howard joined the Houston Rockets last week, a mere three days after meeting with the Lakers for two hours in what accounts said involved Bryant and Howard openly airing their grievances about one another.
“Was it tough playing with Kobe?” Howard said in a recent interview with ESPN. “Yeah, it was very tough. But playing along with Kobe didn’t have any parts in my decision going to Houston. I just felt like going to Houston was a better situation for me in my career.”
Howard believes Rockets coach Kevin McHale will feature him in a larger offensive role in the post than Mike D’Antoni would. He believes James Harden will play with more efficiency and better health than Steve Nash would. Howard believes it will be easier leading a team lacking with championship tradition than playing on a team steeped with it but Bryant still controlling the agenda.
“Me and Kobe, we had our disagreements and we had our moments,” Howard said. “Everbody knows Kobe likes to score. There were times we would get at it about getting the ball. That happens as a team. But my focus cannot be on Kobe in what he did. I have to look at myself and say I allowed that situation to happen. I could get those balls and do whatever I want because I’m capable of doing it. I can’t blame anybody else for things I’ve done on the court. I would have to own up to it.”
Still, it’s obvious that some of the reasons Howard left go beyond his own personal frustration where he posted 17.1 points and a league-leading 10.8 rebounds per game, his lowest numbers since the 2006-07 season with the Orlando Magic. Howard suggested his sentiments about the Lakers may have changed had they hired Phil Jackson to replace Mike Brown following a 1-4 start.
“That’s a good question. I think he would’ve put the team in the right direction and having him would’ve been great, great for him and my career,” Howard said. “But I think this is a perfect situation for me.”
Still, Howard admitted going to the Lakers’ front office asking for Jackson’s hire shortly after Brown’s firing.
“I was in shock. But at the same time, I didn’t fight it,” Howard said. “I didn’t cry about it. I just went on the court and tried to do the best I can to help that team win.”
That didn’t happen.
Despite his assertions that he loved Bryant’s confrontational nature, Howard also grew tired of it. And when Howard decided to go elsewhere, Bryant instantly unfollowed him on Twitter.
If Kobe doesn’t want to follow me, it’s fine,” Howard said. “It’s not like I’m going to be upset with him or mad that he didn’t continue to follow me. But I wish him the best. I was there for him when he had his surgery and I was there for him at his house. He will always be a brother to me.”
Follow L.A. Daily News Lakers beat writer Mark Medina on Twitter. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org