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Dwight Howard Compares Two of the Greatest Ever

Dwight Howard compares LeBron and Kobe

Dwight Howard had multiple stints with the Purple and Gold of the Lakers over his NBA career. His first stint was in his prime playing alongside 34-year-old Kobe Bryant. By the time Howard returned for his second stint, he was now the 34-year-old playing alongside LeBron James, who, even at nearly 35 years old, was still widely considered the best player in the NBA.

As arguably the best center in basketball in 2012, Howard paired with Bryant was expected to create the NBA’s next powerhouse duo. Obviously, that wasn’t nearly the case, and Howard ended up leaving for Houston after the Lakers — also with Steve Nash and Pau Gasol — were repeatedly labeled as the most notorious failed superteam in NBA history.

The fallout between Howard and Bryant was rampant after L.A.’s poor season. But when Howard returned in 2019, he saw the most success from a team standpoint in his career as a teammate of LeBron James.

Dwight Howard Dishes on Kobe and LeBron

Kobe vs. LeBron: Mindset

Having played with both megastars over his lengthy NBA career, Dwight Howard hasn’t shied from making public remarks on the classic Kobe-LeBron debate.

In 2023, Howard compared how Bryant’s and James’ mentality differed. “[Kobe] might not come in the locker room and talk. Everybody is like, ‘So he’s gonna walk all the way past us, not dap anybody up, give a head nod, or nothing?’ He would just walk past us. That’s just how he would come in. I guess, because now looking back on it, he was probably just doing it to get everybody ready for practice because we were too loud. He’d come in there, and we’re joking around and laughing. He was just different in his approach,” said Howard.

James had a different approach when it came to relationship-building with his teammates.

“LeBron almost acts like somebody from the southside in Georgia,” Howard said. “We acted kinda like twins — joking, silly, having a good time. We’d get on the court, and we’re still gonna have a good time, but we’d dominate,” said Howard.

Dwight Howard Reflects on Kobe and LeBron’s Leadership

As Dwight Howard progressed throughout his NBA career, he perhaps saw true leadership differently.

Entering the NBA as a teenager with an instinctively cheery personality — Howard would always laugh and act silly around teammates. It even got to a point in his career where he was criticized for not taking the game seriously enough.

When he joined Bryant in 2012, Howard was still relatively young — 26, to be exact. As a 26-year-old, seeing a 34-year-old razor-focused old-head like threw a curveball at Howard. Howard and Bryant’s personalities often clashed, and their chemistry on the court looked off as a result.

But when he reflected on playing with the Black Mamba over a decade later, Howard praised Bryant. “They have this presence, and when Kobe walks into the room or LeBron walks into the room, their presence is there and you can feel it. Kobe was more so like a silent killer. He didn’t really talk too much.”

As a guest on the OG’s Podcast, Howard shared what made Bryant and James different in their leadership style. “LeBron is doing all the plays he’s like the coach, and Kobe’s like give me the ball and I’m going to handle it, and I think those are the two differences.”

Though Howard and Bryant struggled to build camaraderie on the court, it’s worth noting that Howard’s approach to the game was entirely different than Bryant’s. As the unquestioned leader of the Orlando Magic, Howard set the tone and culture he wanted: togetherness and having fun.

It’s no secret that James and Howard had a similar attitude when it came to leadership, resulting in Howard revitalizing his career with the Lakers and winning his first NBA championship in 2020.

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