LOOK: Heartbroken Dwight reveals dunk contest plans with Kobe
MANILA, Philippines – Even to his bitterest foes, Kobe Bryant’s legacy rooted in deeply.
Just 3 days before the tragic passing of the basketball legend, returning Los Angeles Lakers center Dwight Howard expressed the possibility of one last team-up between the two during the 2020 NBA All-Star Slam Dunk contest.
Dwight Howard is trying to get Laker fans to help convince Kobe Bryant to help him in the dunk contest next month.— Kyle Goon (@kylegoon) January 23, 2020
“Have I asked him? Not yet. Just gotta get all the fans behind me first. Setting the table. Need you guys, ‘Hey Kobe, can you get in the dunk contest with Dwight?’” pic.twitter.com/udWPpQrtmi
“I’m trying to get Kobe, so if I get the Laker fans to lobby to Kobe to help me in the dunk contest, that’ll be really good. That’ll be awesome,” Howard said in a post-game interview.
Ten days after Bryant’s untimely death shocked the world, fans got an update to that offer.
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.— Dave McMenamin (@mcten) February 5, 2020
“I was extremely hurt, it really hurt me bad,” Howard said after the Lakers’ 129-102 blowout win over the San Antonio Spurs. “There were nights when I just cried myself to sleep just thinking about it.
“For me, a lot of people thought that me and Kobe hated each other,” he continued. “There were times when we just didn’t understand each other. I didn’t get a chance to tell him how appreciative I was for our time together, and how thankful I was to be back here in LA. That was pretty hard for me.”
Howard first left the Lakers after a promising-turned-disastrous 2012-2013 campaign, a season where he had Bryant, Pau Gasol, Steve Nash and Metta World Peace as teammates.
In the first few months after the breakup, Bryant was occasionally seen trash-talking Howard, who by then had jumped ship to the Houston Rockets. There, the infamous clip of Bryant calling Howard “soft” was born.
But time healed all wounds eventually between the two, which peaked with Howard’s stunning decision to return to the Lakers after taking short stops in Charlotte, Atlanta and Washington.
Since then, the former three-time Defensive Player of the Year has been nothing but friendly with Bryant, as evidenced with his peace offering for the slam dunk contest.
However, that plan is all gone now, as Howard will have to redo his ideas against a star high-flyer lineup of Aaron Gordon, Derrick Jones, Jr. and Pat Connaughton in the All-Star Weekend.
As for how he intends to cope with the loss of his rival and friend, Howard himself said it best, just 12 hours before Bryant passed away.
“We should appreciate people while they’re alive.”
"we should appreciate people while they're alive"— Richard (@RichardXLent) January 30, 2020
This was Dwight Howard speaking on LeBron passing Kobe on the all-time scoring list. Less than 12 hours before the tragic accident. pic.twitter.com/QoPs6mpLLt