Dwight Howard was cited as a key example of a player not wanting to play alongside Kobe Byrant in Los Angeles but the Rockets center has claimed that he did not fear the Black Mamba.
The recent ESPN article that alleged players have avoided playing for the Lakers due to the personality of Bryant has sparked major discussion over what kind of impact the shooting guard still has to the success of the Los Angeles franchise.
When Howard left the Lakers as a free agent, his relationship with the Black Mamba was deemed to be one of the central reasons to his exit but Howard has now openly claimed that he did not fear Bryant during, and after his time in LA.
Howard had no fear of Bryant
Speaking to Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle, Howard explained the key reason he left the Lakers and it wasn't Bryant's influence.
He said: "I didn’t leave LA because I was afraid of Kobe Bryant, I went to a good situation for myself. I can’t change people’s opinions, but I did what I had to do for myself.”
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There have been no shortage of articles highlighting the rift between Howard and Bryant whilst in Los Angeles and the discussion was recently re-ignited when Lakers president Jeanie Buss blasted any NBA star not willing to play for the storied franchise.
Buss explained: "Any free agent that would be afraid to play with Kobe Bryant is probably a loser, and I’m glad they wouldn’t come to the team.”
Phil Jackson who is currently the President of the New York Knicks basketball operations was another man who believed that Howard shied away from responsibility on Los Angeles due to his poor relationship with Kobe.
Howard may have in fact left Los Angeles due to Bryant but it doesn't mean that the 6 ft 11 center feared the Black Mamba.
Who wants to play with Kobe?
The shoot first guard's style of play may put of free agents but the possibility of winning a championship in the purple and gold of the Lakers should be enticing enough to want to be a part of the franchise.
Many superstars of the league who were rumoured to have a possibility of entertaining the Lakers as a future team have come to the defence of Bryant, both Paul George and Carmelo Anthony have stated that they were not put off joining LA due to the presence of Bryant.
Howard however did not deny it was a reason behind his exit, simply that he didn't fear Kobe, much to the surprise of many.
Lakers head coach Byron Scott was also asked about the situation between the pair and he theorised: "My outside perspective is Kobe is a real serious guy and wants to win championships, I don't know if Dwight is that serious about it. I know No. 24 is. I think that probably was the clash."
Howard declined to comment about Scott's thoughts on the matter.
Howard went on to say: "It's over with now. There's no need to continue to talk about it. It happened. We played together for a year, The whole team was injured, didn't really get an opportunity to do what we all set out to do."
He continued: "Things happen. Life happens. I think everybody needs to move forward from the situation and worry about their respective teams."