Smack / Jul 18, 2014 / 11:45 am

Phil Jackson Explains How Kobe’s Comment Pushed Dwight To Houston

Kobe Bryant, Dwight Howard

Kobe Bryant, Dwight Howard (photo. @KobeBryant)

In an update to his autobiography “Eleven Rings: The Soul of Success”, Phil Jackson went into detail on what happened when the Lakers met with Dwight Howard during free agency last summer, and how an answer from Kobe Bryant might have sealed the deal on Dwight’s exit from Los Angeles.

The Lakers had a disastrous 2012-13 season. After acquiring Dwight and Steve Nash, the team went winless in eight preseason games, then lost four of their first five games in the regular season. Under pressure to contend and win a championship, head coach Mike Brown was fired. After considering the prospect of bringing Phil back, the Lakers hired Mike D’Antoni instead. They went 28-12 to finish the season, and managed to sneak into the playoffs as an eight seed.

However, with less than a week to go before the playoffs, Kobe tore his Achilles tendon and was out for the year. The Lakers were swept by the Spurs in the first round.

As teammates, Kobe and Dwight did not exactly mesh in their first season together. Kobe is all business, all the time. Dwight is more jovial, and likes to have a laugh even if the team is going through a slump. The differences in their approach made it hard to envision them together for the long haul.

Dwight became a free agent after the 2012-13 season, and many assumed that despite any potential rift with Kobe, the lure of being the next franchise center in Los Angeles and the fact the Lakers could offer more money than anyone else on the market would be enough to bring him back.

But as Phil details in his new book update excerpt, which you can read in full here, it was a little bit more complicated than that:

During his postseason interview, Dwight asked for assurance that I would be coming back to coach the team, but Mitch quickly disabused him of that notion. He asked me to back him up on that and not send out a conflicting message. I agreed and told Mitch that I would reach out to Dwight and encourage him to sign with the Lakers. He never answered any of my messages.

This confirms a rumor that was floating around at the time of Dwight’s free agent meetings. It was believed he asked the Lakers to remove D’Antoni as a condition of his return. According to Phil, this was true.

The Lakers brought Kobe and Nash in to speak to Dwight in their final pitch meeting. Phil thought Kobe had a positive impact on Dwight, but he said something that might have helped make his decision to leave Los Angeles a lot easier:

Kobe made a moving speech during the pitch, promising to teach Dwight the secret of winning championships that he’d learned from the best in the game. If the meeting had ended there, it might have worked. But after the presentation, Dwight asked Kobe what he was planning to do after he recovered from his Achilles injury. Was this going to be his last year? “No,” replied Kobe. “I’m planning to be around for three or four more years.” At that point, according to others in the room, Dwight’s eyes went blank and he drifted away. In his mind, the game was over.

If this is true, it means that Dwight needed two things to return to the Lakers: a new coach, and a guarantee Kobe would get out of his way after just one more season. The thought of sharing the spotlight with Kobe for more than that was too much for Dwight to consider. Instead, he chose less money and a partnership with James Harden in Houston where he was again knocked out of the first round this past spring.

What do you think?

Follow steven lebron on Twitter at @steven_lebron.

Follow Dime on Twitter at @DimeMag.

Become a fan of Dime Magazine on Facebook HERE

Related Posts with Thumbnails
  • SweetdickWilly

    Ultimately, Dwight won and was right to leave. Horrible reffing played a huge role in Houston’s playoff losses but they’re still closer to winning than the Lakers are right now. Kobe has yet to show how recovered he is from the Achilles injury and nobody knows how he’s recovered from the injury that held him to only 9 games last season. Nash may be done and Pau finally woke up and left. The best move the Lakers have done so far is get Jeremy Lin and he could still get moved. He & Dwight were the scapegoats for that season instead of being more involved in the offense. Everybody with some degree of basketball I.Q. and memory could see that D’Antoni needed to go.

  • jhernandez1981

    yeah he won alright. he won another bounce out in the first round and a nine or ten seed next season

  • Kwaku Danso

    “Horrible reffing played a huge role in Houston’s playoff losses”

    LMAO!!! Thanks for the laugh, man! L.A. averaged 30 and Lillard averaged 25 cuz NOBODY on Houston could stick em but let’s blame the reffing. Do better next time.

  • SweetdickWilly

    That’s true they lit them up but the reffing did get called out by a lot of people, especially in the national media. It still doesn’t disprove my point: Dwight came out ahead leaving Los Angeles, especially in light of what’s happened since he left. Kobe will likely beef with Boozer since he doesn’t play much defense

  • Onaje

    Dwight is not a “Winner” in his personal or professional life…he is a poser and a people pleasing simp too often to be taken serious as a leader. If he thought Kobe was blocking his light…what is Harden doing?? Dwight goes for possessions at a time not getting the ball like this is his first 4 years in Orlando over again…Harden is a much more egregious ball hog than Kobe (specifically in the playoffs.) Harden looked terrible often flopping and trying to seek out contact to get whistles rather than get buckets and get good looks for teammates. This is becoming a trend for Harden to disappear and be slow to make adjustments to style of play in the playoffs…

    Dwight is more of a second banana as Harden is no Kobe even being 7+ years younger…So when will Houston contend for a Chip? This year…next?

    Dwight winning is true as he is rich enough to continue to be a simp and care for his ever growing family…hopefully he finds a new way to imitate Shaq and do movies…start a clothing line…try to do comedy…

    Sad part is I enjoy Dwight when he is zeroed in and playing bully ball a bit, demanding the ball, and being that defensive beast, even this year he had a great year, but Harden and the collective Rockets poor defense and effort was the downfall…

    The year Dwight took Orlando to the Finals (2009?) He was a full grown man heading into the Finals…That game 6 vs Cavs was probably him at his best…still waiting to see That Dwight again…

  • Speedz

    No way LAL will move Lin, Nash isnt durable and they just waived Kendall Marshall.

    Unless they somehow managed to sign Eric Bledsoe but even he isnt worth the 5 years 80M currently demanding from the Suns inorder to resign. Especially not with the twice knee surgery he had and still riding on potential based on a small sample size of games where he put up big numbers.

  • Speedz

    Boozer will probably get 30mins max. Problem for LAL now they dont have a shot block to cover anyones mistake on the defensive end.

  • hen2grand

    I really wish that Phil Jackson who shut his old hairy trap and keep thing in the locker room, but since he can’t here he goes again. Notice that he never shares any of Jordan’s frailties like gambling or the fact that he sucked at baseball. Howard’s biggest problem is himself and the fact that basketball is not a platform for greatness for him. He wants to be an entertainer, a standuo comic, a late nite tv show host maybe. This ability to play ball is not something this man seems to appreciate or seem to embrace. It is sad, but D12 is just a crumb compared to the cake of the NBA.