Why has Kobe Bryant been so ambivalent about the Los Angeles Lakers’ pursuit of Dwight Howard? Clearly he was willing to step up and take a leadership role when it came to recruiting Steve Nash; so why is he refusing to be equally proactive when it comes to D12?
Out of loyalty to Andrew Bynum, apparently.
Over the past year, ever since it became clear that Howard’s relationship with the Orlando Magic was deteriorating at a record pace, the Lakers and Brooklyn Nets have been rumored to be his likeliest eventual landing spots.
Sure, the Houston Rockets momentarily emerged as possible suitors – but all signs point that just being a blip on the radar. Howard wants to go to Brooklyn, and L.A. has the best package for a potential trade (Bynum + cap relief by absorbing Orlando’s bad contracts), hence everyone predicting that he’d end up with one of those two teams.
And while the general consensus seems to be that Howard ending up with the Lakers is a very likely possibility, one of the biggest factors in why it hasn’t happened yet is because Howard refuses to agree to a contract extension with L.A.
He has acknowledged that he would sign one with Brooklyn – but not with the Lakers. Why is this the case? Well, according to multiple reports, he was put off by a conversation he had with Kobe last year. In that conversation, Kobe made it clear to him that Howard’s role would be that of a defensive specialist and enforcer – not the No. 1 offensive option.
It wasn’t the best pitch for a guy who wants to be a star. Naturally, Howard didn’t respond well, and he’s been reluctant to commit to L.A. ever since.
As a result of that conversation, Kobe has been on the receiving end of a lot of criticism. His critics claim that he was being selfish by not giving Howard a harder sell. They claim that he did what he did because he didn’t want to forego any additional shots to a superstar center.
Bryant will not recruit Howard to reaffirm the Lakers as part of Howard's list of teams that he’s willing to accept a trade and sign a long-term extension. For several reasons – including Bryant's respect for teammate Andrew Bynum – the odds of Bryant picking up the phone and calling are remote. Bryant would welcome Howard as a teammate, sources say, but he’s shown no inclination to be part of a process of trying convince him to come.
Which makes perfect sense. Remember how tense things were between Kobe and Bynum in the aftermath of that infamous parking lot video? Can you imagine what would happen if we got a sequel to that?
Don’t forget – Derrick Rose refused to recruit LeBron James out of respect for Luol Deng. This is hardly unprecedented.
The Lakers might get Howard, or they might not. But either way, Kobe shouldn’t be faulted for not recruiting Howard the same way he recruited Nash.
It’s apples and oranges.
(Kudos Yahoo! Sports)