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Report: Dwight Howard left Lakers in part because Kobe would not pass torch

Jul 11, 2013, 8:43 AM EDT

Kobe Bryant, Dwight Howard AP

Honestly, there are a lot of reasons Dwight Howard chose Houston over Los Angeles. Mike D’Antoni’s offense and how Howard fits in it is certainly part of it. That D’Antoni was hired when Howard had repeatedly told management he wanted Phil Jackson was part of it. Howard felt he wasn’t listened to. He felt his teammates didn’t stick up for him and how he played through injuries. It was a lot of things.

And you can add the fact the Lakers are and for a while will remain Kobe’s team to the list, writes Ramona Shelburne and Marc Stein at

Sources told that Howard and his representatives, in a handful of meetings with Lakers officials before he became a free agent July 1, strongly suggested that the center would have a difficult time re-signing with Los Angeles if Bryant stayed with the franchise beyond the 2013-14 season, the final year of his current contract.

From the moment the Lakers got Howard to Los Angeles, part of the pitch was that this would be his team when Kobe Bryant walked away — and Kobe dropped a lot of hints that he was going to play one more season and walk away in 2014. Nobody fully bought it, but he was suggesting it.

Until he injured his Achilles — that gave Kobe an obstacle to overcome. Suddenly he was talking about playing three more years.

And if Kobe wants to stay, he stays — he means more to the psyche and financial bottom line of this team than Howard. Kobe is the Lakers right now, the guy that fills the seats and brings in the sponsors. Management will give him what he wants.

Just to really smear Howard’s reputation in Los Angeles is this note from the same ESPN story.

As an offshoot of those discussions, sources said, Howard’s camp at one point asked the Lakers whether they were at least considering releasing Bryant through the league’s amnesty provision, since Bryant’s return date from Achilles tendon surgery remained in question.

This entire incident just fits with the bad timing and miscommunications by both sides while Howard was in Los Angeles.

But there is one other side to this — Howard never played well enough to just take over the Lakers and demand the torch be passed. Howard never earned that conversation on the court. Part of that was injuries, certainly, but last season Kobe Bryant exceeded expectations and Howard fell short. Dwyane Wade eventually ceded all the power in Miami to LeBron James, but because LeBron demanded it with his play. Howard never came close to that in Los Angeles.

The bad Howard/Lakers marriage has disintegrated. And like the dissolution of most marriages it was not just one thing but a storm of a whole lot of them at once.

103 Comments (Feed for Comments)
  1. unxpexted1 - Jul 11, 2013 at 11:22 AM

    As much as I disliked Lebron during decision fiasco. He didnt go in there exclaiming he is going to be the man in Miami. He came down there and BECAME the man. I give him credit for that. So for dwight thinking he was just gonna come in and take Kobe’s spot… i couldnt even type that sentence without laughing.

    • ludachrisgsx - Jul 11, 2013 at 11:44 AM

      LeBron’s televised “decision” had me disgusted. His play since has earned the respect of a lot of his critics from that whole debacle, including me. As much as he rubs you the wrong way for his self absorbed announcement of where he decided to take his talents and the ring count declaration, you can’t deny that he’s made up for his mistakes on the court.

      Everything that Dwight wants handed to him, LeBron has earned – the leadership role, the face of the franchise, the respect from teammates, the love from the fans, you name it. And that came on a team that already had the most beloved player in franchise history. He didn’t walk in the door to the Heat facility and have his representatives start demanding things for him. He shut his mouth, went to work, and contributed. It took time, but he was committed. Now LeBron can demand anything he wants. How is it that Howard felt he could get all that in a single season with the Lakers while being so non-committal and disconnected?

      • miamatt - Jul 11, 2013 at 4:13 PM

        This isn’t your only solid post today. Kudos.

      • topdawg4ever - Jul 15, 2013 at 6:04 PM

        Ludachrisgsx- Excellent post!

  2. lhollis74 - Jul 11, 2013 at 11:50 AM

    ok, let me understand this, as owner of the lakers you want me to just cut a 5 time champion, one of the all time greats, in order to apease you, someone who hasnt won anything simply so you can say this is your team?Then what, do you have a plan after that or is this just to allow you to not be held acountable by another teammate? Dont just listen to what howard says, ask yourself what ar his motives? I dont want to earn it, just give it to me.

  3. BigBeachBall - Jul 11, 2013 at 12:08 PM

    Kobe has the buss family under his thumb. Jerry passed causing the organization to be vulnerable and kobes exploiting it to the fullest. Hes going to retire a laker and theres nothing diehard fans can do about it… Except wait… Hes a great player but damn, how many free agent superstars are going to slip through the fingers before the buss family realizes…. Damn, do you realize its been 10 years since our last finals appearence?

  4. biggerdogg - Jul 11, 2013 at 12:18 PM

    Dwight has not earned the right to carry the torch for LA. If he thinks that he can just walk into a franchise and take over, think again, there are too many player that have earned that right. Stay in one place long enough to earn that right.

  5. kb2408 - Jul 11, 2013 at 12:33 PM

    Dwight wanted the keys to the greatest franchise in all of sports to just be handed to him. Back in 2005 Kobe earned the keys to the LAKERS by “his play on the court”! Houston, he’s your headache now. I can’t wait to see how he responds when it becomes obvious on court that the Rockets are Hardens team. Obviously this overrated, one-dimensional, baby thinks he’s better than he actually is.

  6. staff2cj - Jul 11, 2013 at 12:38 PM

    The Los Angeles “Pastprime” Lakers!!!!

    The Clippers run this block fool!!!!

    BTW, Kobe really needs to retire. Let the other players shine!!

    • ludachrisgsx - Jul 11, 2013 at 12:42 PM

      What other players?

    • ludachrisgsx - Jul 11, 2013 at 12:42 PM

      What other players?

    • ludachrisgsx - Jul 11, 2013 at 2:35 PM

      I’m guessing you mean “let other players in the league” shine? You can’t be talking about Lakers players. And since when did stars who played as well as Bryant did last year just retire for the sake of handing over the spotlight to other players in the league? If Kobe can come back and play anywhere close to as good as he did last year he’ll have a bigger positive impact on the team than most players in the league. Wonder how many people think Duncan should just retire and let other players shine. That makes a whole lot of sense!

      • miamatt - Jul 11, 2013 at 4:20 PM

        Spot on. I am no kinda Lakers or Kobe fan, but that doesn’t mean I don’t love tuning into the fourth quarter of a late night Lakers game to watch Bryant. It’s great for the league and I feel bad for people who just hate him to too much to appreciate what we have as basketball fans. I’d even go so far as to say I’ll miss Kobe when he’s gone. What is beyond question is that the NBA will be diminished the day Kobe retires.

    • miamatt - Jul 11, 2013 at 4:17 PM

      You mean like Steve Blake and Jodie Meeks? Man, I don’t know if I can handle that much shine…

  7. kb2408 - Jul 11, 2013 at 12:40 PM

    He had an opportunity to show the LAKERS ownership, and fanbase, that he could be the face of the franchise and he came up woefully short. All his life this clown has been given everything. And that shows in his game. Nine years in and he’s pretty much the same player he was as a rookie.

  8. malvaren18 - Jul 11, 2013 at 12:51 PM

    Lebron James without Dwayne Wade would not be a 2 time NBA Champ and that’s a fact, on the hand Dwayne Wade without Lebron was indeed a NBA Champion.

  9. lew24 - Jul 11, 2013 at 1:25 PM

    Everyone knows Kobe doesn’t pass anything! Lol

    Plus, Dwight Coward didn’t deserve for the team to be given to him!

  10. chicagofan - Jul 11, 2013 at 1:26 PM

    Pass the torch to him for what? So he could drop it? Howard is an a–hole. Leaving because they did not hire Phil over D’Antoni is ok , but for this would be just stupid.

  11. hailtodaredskins - Jul 11, 2013 at 1:34 PM

    This is not howards fault this is all kobe’s fault. Lets be real last year before they even traded for howard they had a report saying kobe told dwight that “u are going to be my tyson chandler” and that “this is still my team”. From that point on it was relayed to the lakers organazation that he did not want to play with kobe. So this is my thing why would kobe do that? He basically knew that if he went to the lakers he would have to deal with kobe’s BS. Lets not forget that kobe has a rep for not being a player that guys want to play with. Everybody wants to compare him to lebron but people want to play with lebron NO ONE wants to play with kobe LMAO. See kobe is so selfish that he does not care if the lakers suck once he is gone. Smh now that he done ran off howard and any potential superstar free agents they now have no future without kobe. smh And blame the lakers org to cause they should have amneistyed kobe signed dwight and went after a big free agent like paul this year or melo in 2014 or even lebron. Maybe try and work a trade for rondo . But now they are stuck with a team that dont know when kobe will be back and even when he gets back they still aint gonna be ish and when he gone they gonna be even more ish lol

    • unxpexted1 - Jul 11, 2013 at 2:47 PM

      even though this is a diff sport, as a redskin fan i am ashamed of this post

    • kb2408 - Jul 11, 2013 at 3:29 PM

      CP3 wanted to play with Kobe. Pau loves playing with him. Shaq regrets they didn’t play together longer. Bynum was an All-Star playing with him and was arguably the best center in the league. And, lastly, Melo would love to play with Kobe and just might do so. Get your facts together, sir.

    • aboogy123456 - Jul 11, 2013 at 3:50 PM

      how do you know that dwight wanted to sign if the lakers amnestied kobe? And you act like you know what you are talking about but if they amnestied kobe they still could not afford chris paul. I’m glad mitch kupchak knows what he’s doing and doesn’t listen to your advice.

      • Anoesis - Jul 11, 2013 at 6:53 PM

        And here’s hoping he stops listening to Jim-boy, too.

  12. harshedmellow - Jul 11, 2013 at 1:35 PM

    Has anyone here actually PLAYED hoops?!

    It sucks being on a team with Domineering Talented Guy. Most people would last about an hour in a group with a guy like Kobe. Guys like to play the “buck up trooper!” card but seriously… can YOU do that and still be maximally effective at your job, and reasonably happy? Or do you run off to HR. Lol.

    • ludachrisgsx - Jul 11, 2013 at 1:49 PM

      D-Wade has been pretty successful with LeBron… Pippen was thought to be pretty successful with Jordan. Gasol wasn’t too shabby with Kobe in their title seasons. And none of those guys were being promised the keys to the franchise, knowing that the type-A leader was going to be gone within 3 years, at which point the team would be completely theirs. And they didn’t jump ship to go play for a team that has a rising star with a similar game as the guy Howard was supposedly trying to get away. The logic doesn’t add up.

    • ambitoos - Jul 11, 2013 at 2:07 PM

      What a load of crap. Kobe’s contract expires next year. You don’t wait for Kobe to pass the torch, if your a team leader you take the torch. The bottom line is, Dwight doesn’t have the heart of a champion. You knew who Kobe was when you signed with the Lakers. I personally didn’t want you back anyways. Kamen doesn’t have the talent of Dwight but he has a bigger heart.

    • albertmn - Jul 11, 2013 at 3:22 PM

      Playing pickup hoops with a guy like that is a far cry from playing with someone like that in the NBA. If I play basketball, it is to have fun and get to play. But, if I were playing for a living, I would do whatever it took to win, even if it meant putting up with Kobe’s attitude and tantrums (not that I have anywhere near the talent needed to compete at that level anyway).

  13. starvingardens - Jul 11, 2013 at 2:05 PM

    That’s dumb…. You don’t ask to have the torch passed to you. You get it when you deserve it. That’s how they’ve always done it in Lakerland.

  14. 13arod - Jul 11, 2013 at 2:38 PM

    All they had to do i sign phill jackson and he would have stayed

    • kb2408 - Jul 11, 2013 at 3:23 PM

      Right, so what does that tell you? Obviously, the LAKERS really didn’t want him to stay as much as some people may think they did.

      • miamatt - Jul 11, 2013 at 4:03 PM

        Can’t imagine that Howard walking after one disastrous season was the Lakers’ plan. I think this is more Jim Buss wanting the Lakers to win on his terms as opposed to just wanting the Lakers to win period.

        The notion that D’antoni was a better fit for a veteran roster built to win RIGHT NOW than was Phil Jackson is laughable. The notion that D’antoni is a better fit moving forward is laughable. I almost get the sense that if Howard really wanted Phil Jackson, he should have pushed Lakers management to hire D’antoni. Now, it may be that the Lakers began sensing that things weren’t going to work out and prepared to move on, but it looks, to me, akin to when you find out a girl you started dating doesn’t want you and you try to convince yourself that you really never liked her all that much in the first place.

      • sportsfan18 - Jul 11, 2013 at 8:53 PM


        What it tells me is that Jim Buss didn’t want his sister’s boyfriend to run the team.

    • ludachrisgsx - Jul 11, 2013 at 3:52 PM

      Did “sources close to Howard” confirm this as fact? I’ve heard rumors that his reps relayed a message that he wanted Phil to be the coach, but nobody mentioned that he said he would commit long term if Phil got the job.

  15. jeff6381 - Jul 11, 2013 at 7:34 PM

    All the stories that come out everyday half are probably false. First It was Dwight didn’t want to be the guy and he couldn’t handle the spotlight if thats true wouldn’t he want Kobe to stay and not be the guy???

  16. yousuxxors - Jul 12, 2013 at 9:38 AM

    baby buss can’t run the team like the legend who passed. Jeanie is the one with brains, should of gave it to her and Phill.

  17. wtfruthinkn - Jul 12, 2013 at 2:16 PM

    Everyone wondered is Kobe was going to be amnestied, not just Dwight and his ‘reps’. They just wanted to know what was going on, but for some reason the Lakers management now operates in top secret without communicating anything to it’s star players (remember how Kobe found out in the press about the hiring of Mike Brown). Dwight just wanted to know what the plan was, but unfortunately the plan wasn’t to play through him, so he bolted for a better team. But hey, at least we get to keep coach D’Antoni! Great job Jimbo!!

  18. wtfruthinkn - Jul 18, 2013 at 3:53 PM

    Laker fans just have to realize that Jim Buss is simply overmatched here. You think Mitch really had D’Antoni over Phil as his first choice for coach? No. It was Jim. He has final say, and as Magic Johnson put it, he has made “two critical errors” in two years: Mike Brown & D’Antoni. This was 100% Jim, and it cost him Dwight. Say what you will about Dwight, but he’s one of the top players in the league and who are they going to build around now? LeBron? Please. Melo? He couldn’t stand D’Antoni in NY, so they would have to make another coaching change just to TRY and recruit him (and he’s not going anywhere either). Who else? Kevin Love? Lamarcus Aldridge? Some other unhappy superstar? Not happening Laker fans. Great job Jimbo!!!!

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