How Much Blame Does Kobe Bryant Deserve For Lakers' Whiff on Dwight Howard?

Hadarii JonesSenior Writer IJuly 6, 2013

BOSTON, MA - FEBRUARY 7: Kobe Bryant #24 and Dwight Howard #12 of the Los Angeles Lakers look on following a foul 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

Dwight Howard is a Los Angeles Laker no more, and there are a number of reasons why he may have decided to take his talents to Houston instead of trying to become the next great center for a franchise that has defined the position.

Howard's inability to adapt to head coach Mike D'Antoni's system and the health of Kobe Bryant and Steve Nash may be a couple of reasons why Howard decided Houston was a better fit than L.A.

But I for one am betting Howard made his mind up for sure right after hearing Bryant challenge him to embrace the pressure of living up to the Lakers' lofty standards.

According to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports, Bryant told Howard: "You have to learn how it's done. 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."

Bryant's approach may have been caustic, abrasive and blunt, but it was certainly the truth, and apparently it was a little too much for Howard to handle.

When I first learned of Kobe's approach, my first thought was Howard was not going to take it very well. It didn't take long for ESPN's Chris Broussard to confirm my theory.

Bryant had been asking Howard to let him show him how to win a championship since the big man came to Los Angeles via trade, and it's been a source of tension between the two ever since.

Instead of blaming Bryant for running Howard out of town, which sensible Lakers supporters won't, fans should be thanking Bryant for revealing the true nature of Howard's character.

Instead of facing the challenge of leading the NBA's most storied franchise into the future, Howard folded under the pressure. Instead of accepting Bryant's challenge, Howard ran from it.

Say what you will about Bryant, but he has earned the right to lecture on the merits of being a champion. All he was trying to do was let Howard know that same respect would have to be earned as well.

Howard's decision to play sidekick to James Harden proves he would rather be led than lead, and he will get exactly that chance in Houston. While there are championship aspirations for the Rockets, that's a little bit different than championship expectations.

Howard's biggest fallacy besides his lack of an offensive post game is a lack of confidence. Masked by his huge smile, he left $30 million on the table to get out of town. 

Howard decided to leave a team which has missed the playoffs a total of five times in its existence for a team which has failed to qualify for the postseason eight of the past 14 seasons.

The last time the Rockets were good enough to win their division? 1995. The Lakers have shown the ability to rebuild themselves from the ashes, and they will do it again.

However, what happens when Howard finally figures out that he will need a little game and heart to go along with his strength and smile if he ever wants to help the Rockets win championships?

What happens when Harden fades under the postseason lights as he did in the 2012 NBA Finals against Miami? Can Howard pick the Rockets up?

Unfortunately for Houston, Howard has already answered that question in Orlando and again in Los Angeles.

Lakers fans should thank Bryant for reminding them of the lack of resolve coursing through Howard's veins, and for saving them from a franchise player who doesn't have enough heart to justify the title.