It’s been 8 days since the tragic helicopter crash that took the lives of Kobe Bryant, his 13-year-old daughter Gianna and seven other passengers, and there are still players opening up about the Lakers legend. Dwight Howard is the latest to speak on the death of the 41-year-old five-time NBA champion.
Howard will be one of the players participating in this year’s slam dunk contest when NBA All-Star Weekend returns to Chicago. Speaking with the media following the Lakers 129-102 victory over the Spurs, Dwight Howard revealed that Kobe Bryant was going to join him on the court in some fashion during the contest ESPN’s NBA reporter shared in a tweet.
“Dwight Howard says prior to the accident he got word that Kobe Bryant was indeed going to come to Chicago to join him in the dunk contest to help him on a dunk. Dwight says it’s “heartbreaking” that he never got the chance to tell him how much he appreciated him.”
Howard further revealed that it (Bryant’s death) “still hurts,” and there were nights he “cries himself to sleep.” Howard added that he regrets he didn’t get a chance to tell how “appreciative” he was of their time together.
Howard and Bryant were teammates during Dwight’s first stint with the Lakers during the 2012-13 NBA season. A 38-year-old Steve Nash was also on that squad who, on paper, were favorites to win the NBA championship that year. But the experiment failed almost immediately. Nash was a shell of his former MVP self and never recovered from an injury he suffered in the second game. Dwight was just coming off back surgery and was not the dominant force he once was and eventually ended up leaving and signing with the Houston Rockets.
It was no secret Kobe didn’t think highly of Howard and infamously called the Rockets center at the time “soft” and daring the center by telling him, “try me.”
It’s clear that a conversation between the two did take place with them probably squashing their “beef.” But based on Howard’s statement, they didn’t talk a lot, being that he still has some regrets, and now we are left wondering what could have been.
Howard is currently enjoying a resurgent career during his second run with these current Los Angeles Lakers and is one of the team’s vital bench players. You can watch Dwight try to reclaim his crown when NBA All-Star Weekend returns and will run from Friday, Feb. 14, to Sunday, Feb. 16, at Chicago’s United Center. Bryant will be honored during the weekend, primarily during the All-Star game.
Photo: Harry How / Getty