Dwight Howard: I didn’t fear Kobe Bryant

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An ESPN article alleged Kobe Bryant made the Lakers less appealing to other star players. Of course, Dwight Howard was cited as a key example.

That aspect really isn’t groundbreaking.

Phil Jackson said Howard left for the Rockets because of Kobe, and reports at the time matched. There has been no shortage of articles on the Kobe-Dwight divide.

But Lakers president Jeanie Buss added a twist when she said, “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.”

Howard, via Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle:

“I didn’t leave LA because I was afraid of Kobe Bryant,” Howard said. “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.”

Howard might have left Los Angeles, because of Kobe. It doesn’t mean he feared Kobe.

Buss’ attempt to frame the conversation as players being afraid to play with Kobe was a smart player on her part, but it’s not really the issue. Maybe teammates just don’t enjoy playing with Kobe, especially when he’s no longer good enough to lead a team to a championship.

Paul George said he didn’t avoid the Lakers due to Kobe, and so has Carmelo Anthony. But Howard didn’t go that far. He just said he didn’t fear Kobe.

In this case, the distinction likely matters.