This is what Los Angeles Lakers fans have been waiting to hear.
After a disastrous 2012-13 season that saw three different head coaches, plenty of bad losses and no shortage of Kobe Bryant-Dwight Howard drama, the 2013-14 campaign offers new beginnings, new players...and more Bryant-Howard drama.
The Black Mamba tried his best to downplay any bad feelings about his former teammate, but the crafty veteran managed a few subtle jabs at the big man.
In an interview with CNN, Bryant said Howard's absence "changes the dynamic of the team" but that "the pieces fit a little better."
For those of you who spent the summer away from basketball, the Lakers' new pieces are, well, not exactly Dwight Howard. Chris Kaman, Nick Young, Wesley Johnson and Jordan Farmar headline the class of newcomers.
The Lakers won't match the talent of last season's roster, but maybe Bryant is right. The Lakers have a fresh group of complementary players—in other words, there is only one alpha male on the roster now.
Bryant said his on-court and off-court failures with Howard last season were mainly the result of the players' "different perspectives." He explained that he builds his approach on "hard work" and "a challenging nature" that involves bringing out the best in his teammates and his teammates doing the same for him.
He didn't bother to lay out Howard's approach, but he didn't need to. If the two players have philosophical differences and a major part of Bryant's philosophy is hard work, you don't need a detective's badge to figure out that Bryant thinks Howard was lacking in his willingness to work.
It will be easy for these two parties to move on from that failed experiment once the games take center stage again. But don't be surprised if this verbal sparring continues for a while.