One specific comment made by Kobe Bryant during a key meeting with Dwight Howard in the summer of 2013 was pivotal in the latter's decision to seek a new franchise after just one season with the Los Angeles Lakers.
This is according to the updated autobiography of New York Knicks president Phil Jackson, with the former Lakers head coach revealing that Howard entered the free agency discussions seeking confirmation that A; the Lakers would remove Mike D'Antoni from his job, and B; Kobe would soon be out of the picture having retired.
Kobe made a moving speech during the pitch, promising to teach Dwight the secret of winning championships that he’d learned from the best in the game. If the meeting had ended there, it might have worked.
But after the presentation, Dwight asked Kobe what he was planning to do after he recovered from his Achilles injury. Was this going to be his last year? “No,” replied Kobe. “I’m planning to be around for three or four more years.” At that point, according to others in the room, Dwight’s eyes went blank and he drifted away. In his mind, the game was over.
It was far from a secret that Howard and Kobe did not see completely eye to eye during their one turbulent year together at the Staples Center. With Kobe's aura and Howard's laid-back demeanour there was often talk of clashes of philosophy. And the team's disappointing 45-37 2012-13 season was not what the Lakers faithful had hoped when the two perennial All-Stars were placed together.
But Jackson's revelation now shows at what point exactly Dwight Howard knew his time in LA was up. With eyes on becoming the new face of the franchise it is no surprise that Howard headed to Houston following Bryant's admission that he would be sticking around for a while longer.
The situation since
Both Kobe Bryant and Dwight Howard endured frustrating seasons in 2013-14. Kobe was restricted to just six regular season appearances as the Lakers fell to a 27-55 record. Howard meanwhile saw his hopes of a deep run in the playoffs fall at the first hurdle, the Rockets losing in the first round against the Portland Trail Blazers.
And both franchises have struggled to improve their rosters this NBA offseason so far, with the Rockets and Lakers both having had mooted interest in Carmelo Anthony and LeBron James.