Jayne Kamin-Oncea-US PRESSWIRE
When asked the question Monday at media day about whose team the Lakers were, per ESPN LA Kobe Bryant answered in typical Kobe fashion:
"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."
Now if you recall, during the season there were rumors that Dwight Howard was allegedly against a trade to the Lakers (per RealGM.com) because he didn't want to play second fiddle to Bryant. Apparently Howard is somewhat on board with Kobe's comments, and offered a similar response to the question:
"I'm willing to go through that process, learn from one of the greatest to ever play the game and I think it will be great," Howard said. "I think learning from a guy like Kobe, I know he's going to be tough on me, but I expect that and I want him to do that. So, I'll take all the heat that he's going to give me because I know at the end of the day, that's going to make me a better player and a better person and it's going to make this team better."
Howard's response is to be expected considering that he is the one joining a Lakers team that Kobe has been the alpha dog of for close to a decade now. Although it is interesting that Kobe spoke as if Howard signing with the Lakers long-term once the season is over is a certainty, despite Howard's reported history of indecisiveness that eventually led to his exit from Orlando.
Steve Nash seems to have the type of laid-back personality that won't have an issue taking a back seat to the huge egos of Bryant and Howard. The question is whether the all-business Bryant and the fun-loving Howard can share the locker room and attention as the leaders of the Lakers team challenging for a title immediately.
We also can't ignore Kobe previously having a rocky relationship with another joyful center that came to L.A. from the Magic, although at 34, Bryant is a bit more mature and knows he needs Howard's help at this stage of his career.
The current edition of the Lakers has a very small window to succeed. If they can find the right combination of lineups, remain healthy and on the same page, there is little stopping them from holding a parade next June as the 2012-13 NBA champions.