Kobe Bryant attended last night’s Los Angeles Lakers win over the Atlanta Hawks, although evidently not all of the players on the court were immediately aware of his presence. No one had a funnier experience than Dwight Howard, who was ready to fight the random person who slapped the back of his neck before the game.
“I didn’t even know who it was. He slapped me on the neck. I was about to elbow him, but then he said ‘hey what’s up man, you’re playing good,’” Howard said, imitating Bryant’s deep voice for that last part. “But it was cool man, I’m glad he came to the game. It was a lot of fun having him in the building. The crowd was going HAM. So, it’s great to have him.”
They showed some author on the jumbotron and the crowd got really excited. Big literature stans here tonight I guess. pic.twitter.com/mnDukfMcMg— Harrison Faigen (@hmfaigen) November 18, 2019
Imagine for a second how things would’ve gone had Howard not noticed in time who Kobe was and threw an elbow — leading to a shiner that Bryant had to don for the entirety of his time sitting courtside. Would that have derailed the incredible redemption season Howard has enjoyed thus far? I don’t know, but I kind of wish we could’ve gotten this much funnier scenario.
Howard has been wearing Bryant’s shoes this season and was asked whether that was another attempt at endearing himself to Lakers fans. Howard said it has more to do with what he needs from a basketball shoe.
“I think those are some of the best basketball shoes. It wasn’t because I was coming to the Lakers or anything. I just really like the shoe. It feels good,” Howard said.
Even if it was an attempt to ingratiate himself to a fan base that had turned its back on him, this felt like a pretty cheap question. Howard is by no means the typical big man, and a shoe that lets him move around more freely than the bulky shoes bigs usually wear might actually make a ton of sense to him. It’s hard to argue with the results thus far.
Howard was also asked whether he harbors any ill will towards Bryant after the way things played out when they were teammates, and, as he’s said all season, he’s more interested in looking ahead.
“Doesn’t matter. That’s the past. This is a new age, new day. We all about positive vibes,” Howard said.
In one last attempt to get Howard to say something he might regret, a question on whether LeBron James is the best player he’s ever played with was lobbed in his direction. He wasn’t having it.
“I see where you’re going. You’re not gonna get me. Good try.”
It’s kind of too bad the questions went in the direction they did. There are some fascinating levels to what is going on here with Howard that deserve more nuance than the discussion received last night.
All that matters is that Howard and Bryant have both moved on. Howard has been an absolute revelation this season, and so long as he continues that, people will eventually forget about how things went with him and Kobe. That’s at least the hope, though. Based on those questions, though, it appears some are unwilling to move on.