Kobe Bryant is no longer afraid to speak his mind. He was never shy about his opinions, but previously tried to maintain an aura of mystery around his persona that just isn't there anymore.
During his media appearances to promote his new documentary "Muse," he has scolded his teammates for celebrating an overtime win against the Celtics and said the new collective bargaining agreement was designed to stop the Lakers. Recently he conducted a fantastic interview with USA Today's Sam Amick in which he talked about everything from his relationship with Lamar Odom to cold-calling Vogue editor Anna Wintour to pick her brain.
Among all these new revelations, there's a familiar theme Kobe touched on: Dwight Howard and his ill-fated stint as a Laker.
Kobe and Howard reportedly never got along as teammates and had a dust-up this season when the Lakers met the Rockets, Howard's new team. Kobe took offense to Howard throwing his elbows after getting a rebound and called him "soft," among other things. He later apologized, saying Howard is "a Teddy bear."
It's obvious there's no love between the two. In the interview Bryant reveals how that rift started:
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.
It seems that all the reports about Howard not being happy with the locker room culture Bryant had established were correct. Howard is more comfortable with a laid-back approach, while Bryant is as old-school about taking the game seriously as any player. Bryant said during an appearance on the Grantland Basketball Hour that he has no regrets about how things transpired when Howard was a Laker, which is understandable considering how dissimilar they are.
Howard is now with the Rockets, where he shined in the playoffs last season. An injury has limited him this year but the team will make the postseason again and is looking like a contender. Kobe is out with injury as well and the Lakers are having one of their worst years in franchise history. However, he's optimistic about the possibilities they will have this offseason with a likely top-five pick and cap room to sign free agents.
Their marriage clearly wasn't meant to be, as Kobe has said again and again. They are both better off now, even if their breakup was messy.
Lakers Nation presents: Kobe Bryant on his return, "I'm going to die tryin"