|Nothing has changed. Nothing. (US Presswire)|
When talk surfaced last year of a potential Dwight-Howard-to-L.A. deal, there was a question of how Kobe Bryant would accept a star of Howard's talent sharing the floor with him. Bryant, you may have noticed/heard/seen over and over and over again, tends to like the ball in his hands and to, you know, score the points.
A report surfaced of a phone call between Bryant and Howard, in which Howard walked away feeling he "wouldn't be the Lakers' top option." A separate report from a source close to Howard mentioned that Bryant had told the MVP candidate that he would be the "Tyson Chandler" to the Lakers. Liiiiiiitle bit insulting.
Since Howard actually was traded to the Lakers, Bryant has said all the right things, praising Howard's talent and talking about how good they can be. So it looks like that story is over... oh, what's that? It's media day? What's that shadow creeping over the Lakers?
Oh, that's right, it's Bryant's ego. From ESPN Los Angeles, emphasis ours:
"I got a question earlier about whose team this is," Bryant told reporters at the Lakers media day Monday. "I don't want to get into the, 'Well, we share ...' No, it's my team. But I want to make sure that Dwight, when I retire, this is going to be his. I want to teach him everything I possibly know so that when I step away this organization can ride on as if I never left."
So a few thoughts here:
- It being "his team" can mean a lot of different things. It doesn't necessarily mean that he wants the final shots, or a higher usage rate, or a higher volume of field goal attempts, or attention of any sort. It could just mean that he's the leader, he's the voice and the face of the team. Bryant's earned that with his championship play. He's been there his entire career. He's as much a Laker as Kareem or Magic or West.
- He's not fighting Howard's involvement or objecting to his addition, and he's not even fighting a transition of the Lakers' legacy to Howard's hands. He just wants to make it on his own terms. That's how Bryant's played his entire career, and there's no reason to change in his mind, this close to the finish.
- If you recall, he knows what it's like to deal with a super-ego center, constantly fighting for top billing. Did it once, doesn't want it again.