When Dwight Howard decided to sign a free agent deal with the Rockets back in the summer of 2013, most NBA fans thought he would be able to do some special things playing alongside James Harden. With Harden and Howard in the mix, Houston looked like a true title contender. But Howard and Harden never fully clicked, and Howard left Houston last summer to sign with the Hawks.
In a recent feature story on Harden, Sports Illustrated writer Lee Jenkins discussed just how bad things got between Howard and Harden last season. According to his reporting, the two stars sat on opposite sides of the locker room and essentially divided the entire team as they forced other players to decide which side they wanted to sit on. Their alleged beef never turned physical, but it did make things difficult for Harden, who described 2016 as the worst year of his life.
But were things really as bad as they seemed between Howard and Harden? Howard took part in a lengthy Q&A interview with The Undefeated this week, and he spoke about his fractured relationship with Harden. He claimed things weren’t that bad between them and that it was never personal on his end.
"The issues they say happened between me and James were small communication issues," he said. "Instead of us coming together and talking about it, we allowed other people to do talking. The lines of communication were twisted. But like I’ve always said, I’ve never had a personal issue with James. Why? Everything he is doing now, everything he is coming into, I’ve been that player. The awards, all that, the accolades. I wasn’t there to try to compete against him. I wanted to win with him."
Harden obviously wasn’t the first teammate Howard reportedly had a problem with. Prior to joining the Rockets, Howard spent a season with the Lakers. And during his time in Los Angeles, he didn’t always see eye-to-eye with Kobe Bryant, which led to some friction between the two. But according to Howard, things weren’t as bad as people made them seem in that case, either. He told The Undefeated he hasn’t spoken with Kobe recently, but he said he doesn’t have any beef with him today.
"There was never an issue with me and him," he said. "The same thing I told him is the same thing I told Steve Nash and every one of those guys. I want to learn from them. I want to take as much knowledge as I can from y’all. One day when y’all out the league and I’m still playing, I can give that knowledge to somebody else and I can keep this thing going. I’ve never had an issue with [Bryant]."
Elsewhere in the interview, Howard also talked about his final days in Orlando with the Magic, his decision to play in Atlanta, and his ongoing pursuit of a championship. You can go here to check it out. Do you believe him when he says he doesn’t have any lingering animosity for Harden or Kobe?