The tension rose at times Kobe Bryant shot the ball and Dwight Howard scoffed at his role. The arguments escalated in an infamous mid-season meeting in Memphis in which Bryant confronted Howard both about Howard’s indirectly critical comments about Bryant and his dissatisfaction about how the Lakers featured him. The philosophical differences emerged again when Howard believed the Lakers did not credit him enough for playing through recent back surgery, while Bryant and others believed Howard’s attitude only perpetuated his struggles.
Yes, the Bryant and Howard duo featured plenty of drama, something that paled only to the contentious relationship Bryant had with Shaquille O’Neal. But unlike that pairing, Bryant and Howard never won an NBA title together. Instead, Bryant tore his left Achilles tendon three games before the 2012-13 regular season ended and Howard pulled a disappearing act in the Lakers’ first-round sweep to the San Antonio Spurs. Howard then quickly jetted to the Houston Rockets as a free agent.
Incidentally, the Lakers’ season opener Oct. 28 against the Houston Rockets at Staples Center will mark the first time Bryant and Howard took the floor together since Bryant injured his Achilles on April 13, 2013. Considering their acrimonious feelings toward each other, how will the Bryant and Howard showdown materialize?
That became one of several topics Time Warner Cable Access SportsNet host Chris Geeter, analyst Dave Miller and I addressed Wednesday to preview the schedule release of the Lakers’ 2014-15 season. As much as Bryant will stay more focused on the actual game, I wouldn’t be surprised if Bryant tried to dunk over Howard in the same fashion the Lakers’ star did during Howard’s rookie season in Orlando nearly a decade ago. Miller dismissed my theory, and hilarity ensued as we provided some spirited albeit light-hearted give and take.
But what say you? How will the Bryant-Howard dynamic play out? Will they exchange pleasantries, scowl at each other or just pass up any chance to interact? Will either Bryant and Howard attempt to show up the other? Or will both players remain fixated on just helping their team win? More importantly, which team will come out on top?
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Follow L.A. Daily News Lakers beat writer Mark Medina on Twitter. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org