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Dwight Howard thanks Kobe Bryant for calling him soft

Dwight Howard, Kobe Bryant

Who will ever forget the 2013-14 season opener between the Los Angeles Lakers and the Houston Rockets? It was the game that was popularized by the beef between Kobe Bryant and Dwight Howard, which ended with the Black Mamba calling his former teammate ‘soft’.

It became such a popular moment that fans still can’t get over it up to this point whenever Howard’s name is being mentioned in the same sentence as the Lakers.

Apparently, Dwight did not appreciate Kobe’s words during that game, until now at least.

In an interview with FS1’s Kristine Leahy, Howard said that he initially hated Bryant for calling him soft, but later understood what the Mamba was really trying to say to him.

“I kinda hated him for saying that because I looked at it the wrong way. 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.”

“Everybody reaches different levels of maturity at different times. 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.”

Bryant and Howard played one season with the Lakers during 2012-13, but it was clear that they really were never in the same page. Kobe was willing to pass the keys of the Purple and Gold to Dwight, but he wanted him to be more serious.

Howard, who’s always been known to be giddy, never bought into Bryant’s mentorship methods, which eventually led to him leaving the Lakers in favor of the Rockets.

From there, Howard started bouncing around the league because he although he can still average a double-double, it doesn’t seem like he’s really taking the game seriously. Add to that the fact that he’s been injury-prone over the past couple of years, and the result is him struggling to find a team to play for next season. He already said that he’s open to the idea of returning to the Lakers, but the team reportedly has no interest in bringing him back.

It may have taken Howard a long time to realize that Bryant was just trying to toughen him up mentally, and if only he understood better, things would’ve been different for him and his career.