“You have to find the silver lining in everything,” Kobe Bryant said during his exit interview Tuesday.
Kobe was responding to a question asking if his Achilles injury had unexpectedly provoked openness in the context of having teammates come and visit him at his home. Prior to his surgery, Bryant’s castle was surrounded by a moat without a bridge. The only entrance was by helicopter.
After the injury, there was a pilgrimage performed on personal time by several prominent Lakers, including possibly the next franchise player Dwight Howard.
“I think having Dwight come over at that time really strengthened our bond,” Bryant said. “He went through a situation where [during] his back surgery, he was all by himself. He had nobody there for him.
“So, I think he sees that and sees me going through this and doesn’t want me to experience the same thing that he experienced. I see that, and I understand that, and I respect that.”
For the better part of this season, Bryant and Howard had a professional relationship that was respectful on the basketball court. Howard wanted more. To say their relationship was fractured or destroyed would be a gross overstatement. However, Howard wanted more.
Howard asked for a deeper relationship. He would consistently say he wanted a personal relationship with the longtime Lakers superstar, but Bryant would respond that their relationship was exactly where it needed to be—professional.
“My love for him grew a lot that day,” Bryant said of the day Howard visited him in his home.
Bryant admitted that his professional barrier had been breached and a personal bond had been formed.
Apparently, a torn Achilles built a personal bond between Dwight Howard and Kobe Bryant. It may not be the reason Howard ultimately re-signs with the Lakers, but that elevated level of personal respect surely cannot hurt when Howard eventually sits down to make his decision.