Kobe Bryant Says Dwight Howard Couldn’t Handle His ‘Combative Nature’

Houston Rockets center Dwight Howard bolted from the Los Angeles Lakers after a disastrous season in the summer of 2013, and Kobe Bryant thinks it’s because the big fella didn’t want to play in a hostile (but winning) environment.

Kobe conveniently ignores the fact that Howard joined a much better and younger squad.

According to Bryant, Howard lacks the kind of competitive edge and personality type necessary to win big in the NBA.

Per USA Today:

In a lot of your interviews, I’ve heard you talk about DNA quite a bit. Are there fewer players in the league now with your kind of DNA than when you first came in?

KB: “Absolutely. I can only guess, but when I was growing up it was completely OK to be competitive and to want to be better than the other guy. It was completely understood that I was trying to be better than Tim Thomas coming out of high school, and he was trying to be better than me. That was OK, and now it seems like it’s almost passive aggressive — no, I’m not really trying to be better than you, but you really are. As opposed to laying down the gauntlet, and saying, ‘No, we’re going after each other, even though we’re still friends.’ Magic and Isiah (Thomas) were great friends, but it was understood that, ‘I want what you have.’ So I think the AAU circuit might have a lot to do with that, because guys were just around each other all the time, they get to know each other a lot, and they lean on each other a lot for support, which is completely fine. But you wind up seeing so much of a camaraderie where it becomes uncomfortable to really compete.”

One guy who you clearly didn’t think had the right DNA was Dwight Howard. You’ve opened up a bit about how all that went down, but I wanted to run something by you. I’d always heard that you told him in the free agency meeting (in July 2013) that he could be the guy in three or four years when you were done. Is that about right?

KB: “It’s very simple. It’s not about three or four years, and I’ve told management this. For me, it’s about making sure the Lakers have the right person in place who’s going to carry this franchise. I tried teaching Dwight. I tried showing him. But the reality is that when you have a perception of what it is to win a championship — and most perceptions of what it’s like to win are a very outgoing, very gregarious locker room where you pick each other up and you’re friends all the time. That’s the perception. And I think that’s what his perception was of what the idea is. But when he saw the reality of it, it made him uncomfortable. And it’s very tough to be able to fight through that, to deal with that challenge. And I don’t think he was willing to deal with that uncomfortable and combative nature.”

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