Kobe Bryant begins sprinting, fairly complimentary of Dwight Howard

HOUSTON — Kobe Bryant jokingly warned he’d immediately end his obligatory once-a-week interview session if it involved his rehab on his left Achilles tendon or when he’ll return.

So he was asked about something more pleasant.

Has he spoken to Dwight Howard recently?

“Have I spoken to him?” Bryant said. “We speak every day.”

He was obviously sarcastic. Bryant and Howard haven’t spoken since he left the Lakers for the Houston Rockets this offseason. Even during Howard’s lone season with the Lakers, his goofy personality and hope for a larger offensive role clashed with Bryant’s demanding leadership style. But Bryant remained largely complimentary of Howard’s decision to go to Houston and how he envisions him playing this season.

“From what I’ve seen, it seems like they want to feature him even more,” Bryant said. “It seems like they’re posting him up even more. They sound very determined for him to have more of a breakout year offensively than he’s had in the past, which I think is great. I think he’ll have a great year. He was always very determined to be more of an offensive player. Here in Houston, he’ll have an opportunity to do that. He always wants to compete to be one of the all-time greats, the Chamberlains, Shaqs and Olajuwons. This year should be the year where he’s putting up those type of numbers.”

Bryant still sounded amused Howard was greeted with boos this week when the Rockets played the Clippers at Staples Center, describing those fans as “undercover” Laker fans.

“The city of LA is like you can be a Laker fan or a Clipper fan,” Bryant said. “But if you leave L.A., they take it personally no matter what.
When the Lakers host the Rockets Feb. 19 at Staples Center, Bryant anticipates “a lot of energy in the building.” Will he appear in that game?

“Hopefully,” Bryant said. “I hope so, barring any major setbacks.”

Bryant also confirmed that his recent tweet with the hashtag, “#blackout” referred to his on-court workouts that entail running, basketball drills, cardio exercises and weight lifting. What did Bryant make of the fans believing the #bearhunt hashtag meant he would return Nov. 15 vs. the Memphis Grizzlies?

“I thought it was well thought out and very witty,” Bryant said.

Bryant offered no timeline on his return, let alone when he will participate in a practice. But he said he has spent the past week completing running drills, including sprints. But he hasn’t progressed toward making any lateral cuts.

“When you’re sitting on your [tail] for so long, the hardest thing is the conditioning and getting back to playing at a high level,” Bryant said. “Being able to run and play at a high level for 48 minutes is tough. You really got to push yourself conditioning wise to get in shape.”

Bryant said he hasn’t weighed himself recently. But he tweeted last month that he lost five pounds in one day. How did he burn his weight off so quickly?

“When you eat a lot of [junk food], drink a lot of water and [flush] it all out and then you start doing activity,” Bryant said, “I tend to lose weight pretty quickly.”

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

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