Dwight Howard: 'Egos' got in the way of successful Lakers stint alongside Kobe Bryant

Dwight Howard’s second stint with the Los Angeles Lakers was going much better than his first.

The 16-year NBA veteran found a valuable role as a rebounder, rim protector and occasional scorer off the bench on a star-laden team before the COVID-19 pandemic led to a shutdown of the NBA season.

Massive failure in L.A.

His first stint in 2012-13 famously went off the rails as he joined Kobe Bryant under pressure to become the second incarnation of Shaquille O’Neal to play alongside the Lakers legend. He opened up about the failed experiment on Wednesday in an Instagram Live chat with teammate Jared Dudley.

"I really can’t speak for Kobe, so I'll speak for myself,” Howard said, per SI’s Melissa Rohlin. “In that season that I played here, I think there was a lot of egos that was in the way of us being the team we wanted to be.”

That 2012-13 Lakers team also featured Pau Gasol and an aging Steve Nash. When assembled, the Lakers were expected to be the super team to counter the Miami Heat’s power trio of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh.

Instead, they finished in seventh place in the West at 45-37 and fell victim to a first-round sweep by the San Antonio Spurs in the playoffs. Howard and Bryant clashed, and Howard left to join the Houston Rockets in free agency the next season.

Dwight Howard opened up about how egos played a role in his first failed stint with the Lakers. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

Tension lingered between Howard, Bryant

Bryant called Howard “soft” in 2014 during a tense meeting after Howard had joined the Rockets. Howard never again reached the heights he achieved as one of the game’s most dangerous weapons during his years with the Orlando Magic.

“I know that I approached that season wanting to be the best version of myself and also the man,” Howard continued on Wednesday. “You know, I'm young, I just felt like that at the time. It was really hard for me and Kobe to really communicate. I think we were just at two different stages.”

Bryant’s death in a helicopter crash in January has prompted some reassessment of relationships, Howard included. He told Dudley that the process actually started for him prior to Bryant’s death when he was in the process of rejoining the Lakers last summer.

“I got to forgive,” Howard said of his process last summer. “I got to let this stuff go.”

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