Kobe Bryant: “Dwight is a great kid”

Kobe Bryant may have clashed on and off the court with Dwight Howard. Bryant may have unfollowed Howard on Twitter the instant he left the Lakers for the Houston Rockets. Behind the scenes, both may maintain ill will toward each other stemming from their contrasting personalities and basketball philosophies.

But with comedian Jimmy Kimmel and a crowd ready to hear Bryant rip Howard during a one-hour sit-down interview Thursday at the Nokia Theatre, the Lakers’ star relented.

With ticket proceeds benefited the Kobe and Vanessa Bryant Family Foundation to help end homelessness, Kimmel asked, “If there was only one homeless person in the world, would you be happy if it was Dwight Howard?”

The audience roared, but Bryant didn’t take the bait. Well, not completely. Bryant didn’t launch an insult toward Howard in the same way executive Jim Buss said when he said recently that “he was never really a Laker.” But Bryant still offered a subtle jab.

“Dwight is a great kid,” Bryant said, nearly drowned out by boos. “We have different perspectives on what it takes to win. and be successful. Because of that we didnt always see eye to eye.”

They sure do.

Bryant maintains a serious and isolated persona before games, while Howard joyfully made small talk with reporters and team personnel. Howard believed Bryant didn’t give enough credit for fighting through back and shoulder injuries, while Bryant believed he should’ve leaned less on that as an excuse. Howard showed frustration when Bryant shot at a high volume and cut corners on defense. Bryant showed frustration when Howard lacked consistent post moves and allowed external pressure to overwhelm him.

With both personalities clashing, why did Bryant attend the Lakers’ meeting in Howard to hopes to convince him to stay?

“It was about the organization. It was about everything they’d done for me throughout my career,” Bryant said. “It was about me trying to help them out any way I can to set them up for the future, for when I retire. It wasn’t about me.”

*The Associated Press contributed to this report

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Follow L.A. Daily News Lakers beat writer Mark Medina on Twitter. E-mail him at mark.medina@dailynews.com

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