In the midst of Howard's free agency, Bryant reportedly had a very Michael Jordan-like message for Howard when the big man and his camp sat down for their meeting with the Los Angeles Lakers.
According to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports, Bryant told Howard he wants to teach him how to be a champion, saying:
You need to learn how it's done first, and I can teach you here. I know how to do it and I've learned from the best—players who have won multiple times over and over. Instead of trying to do things your way, just listen and learn and tweak it, so it fits you.
Did anyone really expect anything less?
Bryant has never been shy about expressing exactly how he feels, and having gone through a maturation process of his own earlier in his career, Bryant is speaking from experience.
When asked by Mike Trudell of Lakers.com (via Eric Pincus of the Los Angeles Times) if he wanted to see Howard return, Bryant said yes but made a key statement regarding the process.
"It has to be his decision," he said. "The last thing you want to do is convince a person that they want to be here."
Bryant very clearly understands what's at stake, and he's communicating with Howard through the press much like Phil Jackson used to do when he was coaching the Lakers.
Lakers fans are hopeful Mamba's words of wisdom will resonate with Howard.
But as Kobe said, this has to be Howard's decision.