It's becoming clear that Kobe was the reason Dwight Howard left the Lakers
At the end of the day, Howard still ended up choosing the Houston Rockets and spurned the Lakers, one of the most storied franchises in sports.
Why did he decide to leave? It's starting to look like Kobe Bryant had a lot to do with it.
Originally, it was reported that Kobe Bryant was one of the last people to meet with Howard before he made his decision, and that meeting was a total turnoff for Howard.
At the time, no details were given about the meeting, leaving people to guess the exact reason Howard was turned off by Kobe's pitch. Now, we know a little bit more about it.
Apparently Howard was set on the idea of becoming the face of the Lakers' franchise, and wanted that to happen sometime soon. Once Kobe Bryant made it clear that he wasn't interested in retiring (or leaving the team) anytime soon, it became obvious that the "face of the franchise" wasn't going to be changing.
Howard figured that in Houston, he would be that face, giving him an opportunity that wasn't going to be available in Los Angeles.
Not only is Kobe Bryant not planning on stepping aside anytime soon, he's apparently also not interested in taking any kind of pay cut or hometown discount to stay with the Lakers.
At this point, Kobe is actually hurting the team. Badly. By preventing them from being able to sign Dwight Howard, he basically financially crippled them for the 2013-14 season. Once the Lakers free up some salary in 2014-15, they'll still be handcuffed significantly thanks to Kobe's contract, which will be upwards of $30 million.
Instead of being able to sign multiple free agent max contracts, the Lakers will be giving Bryant basically the equivalent of two of those max contracts. And quite honestly, the chances of Bryant legitimately being worth two max contracts in 2014-15 is approximately zero. In fact, the chances of his on-court value even being worth ONE max contract are slim to none.
While Bryant is still (and will always be) beloved in Lakers Nation, the fact is that he's severely hurting the Lakers' chances of winning a championship anytime soon.
Enjoy a few sub-.500 seasons, Lakers fans.