Howard is “still in shock” over Bryant’s untimely passing, and regrets never having had the opportunity to let him know how much he appreciated him.
“It doesn’t seem real that it happened,” Howard said.
“He was going to do something for me in the dunk contest, which is kind of heartbreaking,” Howard said Tuesday following the Lakers’ 129-102 win over the San Antonio Spurs at Staples Center. “It’s been on my mind every day. Man, I can’t believe it. I’m still in shock. It hurts. It’s tough. I just never thought that somebody like that would be gone.
“And it’s something that, you know, I just tell people, if you have any bitterness or anger, whatever, strife towards anybody, let it go. Let them know how you feel. Get those feelings out. Let them know because you never know what could happen. Life comes and goes just like that. For me, it’s super sad because I really wanted to tell him how much I appreciate everything he’s done, all the things he’s said. Even at the time that we were on the same team, we didn’t understand each other.
“But I saw a different Kobe, and I even saw a change in myself. And I’m pretty sure he saw it. I just wanted to be able to tell him how I felt about him, and I never got the chance to. That was really the most heartbreaking part. Every day it’s been on my mind. It’s something that I’ve just got to deal with, just show the fans in this city that I’m willing to do whatever it takes.”
Howard told ESPN that both Lakers vice president of basketball operations Rob Pelinka and Howard’s agent, Charles Briscoe, got word prior to the tragedy that took the lives of Bryant, his daughter Gianna and seven others on Jan. 26 that Bryant would indeed be joining him at All-Star Weekend.
“I probably have cried as hard as I have in a while, the death of Kobe,” Howard said. “It wasn’t because we were close, close friends, it’s just like, man, I just never thought that it’d be Kobe.”