In his never-ending quest to be completely honest, Bryant admitted that he and Dwight Howard are not “best friends” (via Dave McMenamin of ESPNLosAngeles.com):
Kobe Bryant to Michael Wilbon on his relationship with Dwight: “It’s not like we’re best friends.”
“We get along in the sense that we understand each other,” Bryant told Wilbon prior to ABC/ESPN’s broadcast of Lakers-Bulls on Sunday. “We know what our responsibilities are to the team. Yeah, absolutely. If you ask Dwight, or you ask myself, we don’t dislike each other at all. It’s not like when Shaq and I were feuding. We didn’t want to be around each other. For me and Dwight, that’s just not the situation. It’s not like we’re best friends either. It’s a good understanding, I think.”
Anyone who’s surprised that Kobe and Dwight don’t spend their free time sipping Mai Tais by the pool clearly hasn’t followed the Lakers this season.
Howard and Bryant are polar opposites. The former is a jovial, easy-going big man who prides himself on defense and missing more free throws than Shaquille O’Neal (kidding). The latter is a transparently serious competitor who would sooner sell his soul than admit he’s content with not winning a championship (also kidding).
In other words, they’re not what you would call compatible pals.
Which means absolutely nothing. Los Angeles doesn’t need them to be friends. The team doesn’t need them to hang out at bars or go grab frozen yogurt after the game. They just need them to win.
And win they have, at least lately. The Lakers now have a half-game lead over the Utah Jazz for the eighth and final Western Conference playoff spot, and Kobe and Dwight are visibly clicking together on the court. That’s all that matters.
Not every team has to be as close-knit as the Los Angeles Clippers. It’d be nice, but it’s not a perquisite. Bryant mentioned Shaq, whom he didn’t get along with at all, and they still won championships together. Three of them, in fact.
For those that have an inherent need to believe that they’re favorite team’s players adore each other, bear in mind that Kobe never said he and Howard aren’t friends. He admitted they’re not “best friends,” but that doesn’t mean they aren’t friends. Could we really expect them to be best friends anyway? There’s almost an eight-year age difference there. Is your best friend nearly a decade younger than you?
This doesn’t change a thing. If anything, it only improves things. Finally, one of them admits that they’re not at the point where they have secret handshakes, but Bryant also puts to rest the rumors of their internal jawing.
Kobe Bryant and Dwight Howard are friends. Not “best friends,” but friends. They’re also teammates. Teammates who both want to win and are willing to work together to do it.
And that’s the only kind of relationship they need to have.
Dan Favale is a firm believer in the three-pointer as well as the notion that defense doesn’t always win championships. His musings can be found at Bleacherreport.com in addition to TheHoopDoctors.com. Follow @danfavale on Twitter for his latest posts and all things NBA.