Former teammates Dwight Howard and Kobe Bryant got the NBA season underway on Tuesday night with a trash-talking barrage that stemmed from an elbow thrown by Howard which connected with Bryant’s chin.
The two players, who were teammates with the Los Angeles Lakers during the 2012-13 campaign, had to be separated after the incident, which began after Howard grabbed a fourth quarter rebound for his team, the Houston Rockets. Bryant immediately tried to defend against him to prevent an outlet pass, but in his attempt to get some room, Howard elbowed Bryant.
After being separated, the game officials reviewed the play, and gave Bryant a personal foul, and Howard a flagrant foul 1. In addition, each player was assessed a technical foul.
According to a Lakers source, the trash talking was heightened when Bryant continually referred to Howard as “soft.” After the game, Bryant was unapologetic about his approach, saying, “Trash talking is part of the game. I don’t know where the NBA became so sensitive.” My bud Keith Mann had it right, at least Bryant got to have the last word.
During Howard’s only season with the Lakers, both he and Bryant clashed on numerous occasions. Some believe that Bryant, who has been a part of five different NBA title teams with the Lakers, took offense to what he perceived as Howard’s less-than-serious approach to the game. After that lone season, Howard signed a free agent contract with Houston.