Dwight Howard has left the Los Angeles Lakers and is joining the Houston Rockets to seek out being the face of the franchise and "unconditional love" -- something Kobe Bryant and the Lakers were reluctant to give him, according to Yahoo! Sports Adrian Wojnarowski's latest column.
That January in-house team meeting in Memphis? Bryant confronted Howard and made it clear every negative thing he said about the Lakers' leading man, every impersonation Howard made when he wasn't around, came back to him.
Bryant had "come to rage" against the idea of Howard's "clownish" disposition taking hold of the Lakers' culture and warned Howard he would "never, ever let it happen", writes Wojnarowski, giving more insight as to what occurred during the meeting.
When it was first reported by Mike Bresnahan of the Los Angeles Times few details of the meet were reported. It was known, however, that Bryant asked Howard directly if he was bothered by the fact that he can be "hard to play with." Howard's answer was "unclear", and a witness in the meeting claimed he "didn't go back at Kobe."
A source who was in the room told Wojnarowski that he doesn't believe "anyone had ever talked to [Howard]" the way Bryant did during the meeting.
There were doubts from Lakers players, coaches and even opponents that Howard was playing with the "proper purpose and passion."
"With Dwight, he has to be the face of the franchise. Anything less than that, and it would be difficult for him to function at his highest level," a league official with prior ties to Howard told Wojnarowski.
There was a clear disconnect between Kobe Bryant's vision of what the Lakers are about and what Dwight Howard wanted to be. Ultimately, Howard decided to leave that conflict behind, and perhaps Bryant's clear and direct declaration he can play "at a high level" for three more years served as the final push for Howard to head out to Texas.