The big fella initially hated Bryant for the remark, which went viral, but says they “were on two different levels mentally.”
Howard, 33, adds that he was “ignorant” to the level of maturity The Black Mamba expected of him.
Per Complex (via FS1‘s “Fair Game with Kristine Leahy”):
“I just think we were on two different levels mentally,” Howard said. “He hadn’t never seen a person like me. Someone who could enjoy basketball but at the same time not be so [serious]. That’s not me.”
Howard’s jovial personality didn’t fit with Kobe’s laser-focused mentality, which led to Dwight being traded from the Lakers after just one season.
“I kinda hated him for saying that because I looked at it the wrong way,” Howard said when he recounted Kobe’s comment. “I think he was more so talking about my mentality…not how I am on the court. And I didn’t realize that because all the noise surrounding him saying I was soft. And I hated him. I hated him for that moment.”
Yet, now that he’s removed from the situation, Dwight says that he understands why Kobe was so rigid.
“Everybody reaches different levels of maturity at different times,” Howard told Leahy. “I think at that time I was ignorant to the level that he was at. So I appreciate you, Kobe. Thank you for saying I was soft. I didn’t realize what you meant until now.”