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Kobe Bryant and Dwight Howard's Relationship Vital to D12 Staying with LA Lakers

BOSTON, MA - FEBRUARY 7: Dwight Howard #12 of the Los Angeles Lakers talks with teammate Kobe Bryant #24 of the Los Angeles Lakers against the Boston Celtics during the game on February 7, 2013 at TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)
Jared Wickerham/Getty Images
Richard LeContributor IIIJune 16, 2013

Despite the issues Dwight Howard and Kobe Bryant have had this past season, developing their relationship is key in terms of convincing Superman to come back to Los Angeles.

Bryant has reportedly been a tough teammate to play with no matter what the circumstances. Just ask Smush Parker about Kobe's demeanor and attitude

These negatives aside, there is no debating the fact that Bryant is a proven winner with an unmatched work ethic. Although he isn't a conventional leader, he truly leads by example and has proven himself as a viable facilitator and on-court floor general this past season.

This season has shown that Howard has yet to develop the mental fortitude required to be the center of the nation's media spotlight. 

His 49.2 free-throw percentage during the season, 44.4 percent in the playoffs and his reported 80.0 percent during practices prove that Howard's mental toughness is still questionable. 

With Kobe Bryant in tow, Howard's transition into a franchise player can develop more naturally. This will require the developing of a rapport between the two that didn't really occur during this past season.

However, with the vastly lowered expectations the Lakers have following a bust of a season, there should be more leeway for Howard and Bryant to grow together if Howard chooses to stay in L.A.

The Black Mamba clearly dominates the ball. Part of the reason Howard and Bryant never saw eye-to-eye is because Howard felt he deserved more touches, a feeling many of Kobe's teammates have felt over the years. 

However, this issue could be resolved if both players keep an open mind and realize that Howard will have to play a bigger part in the offense with Bryant coming off of an Achilles tendon injury.

Another issue that made it hard for Howard to be completely comfortable during his transition from Orlando to L.A. is the urgency to win despite a system and a roster that were not conducive to success.

With tensions brewing due to the Lakers' underachieving record, it was no surprise that Bryant and Howard clashed. 

This is something that should iron itself out once Howard shoulders more responsibility with the franchise while Bryant commands the spotlight in his twilight years. 

It is clear that Howard needs to learn how to perform well under extreme scrutiny as well as develop a stronger low-post game. 

The key to this development occurring is to have Bryant facilitate Howard's progression without being too harsh and indifferent.

Howard's personality requires attention without heaping too much pressure onto him. He wants to shoulder more responsibility on offense, but doesn't feel he deserves the onus of the blame when things go awry. 

Not only is Bryant's relationship with Howard essential in keeping Howard in L.A., it is also essential in helping Howard develop his mental toughness. This will be vital in handing D12 the keys to the franchise someday.

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