The Los Angeles Lakers play Dwight Howard and the Houston Rockets four times this season, and the first of those highly publicized meetings occurs on Thursday night in Houston. After spurning the Lakers and the city of Los Angeles during the summer, Howard instantly became one of the most vilified personalities in Southern California.
Earlier in the week, Howard was back in the Southland ahead of an early season encounter against the Los Angeles Clippers. During his visit, Howard talked about his time in LA.
“I did what’s best for Dwight,” Howard said about his decision to leave LA. "It’s over with. There’s no need to talk about it. Things happen. It wasn’t the best situation for anybody."
"Fans are very passionate about their team, and unfortunately, the Lakers have the most fans in the world," Howard continued.
Howard’s use of the word “unfortunately” caused a bit of a social media storm with Lakers’ fans taking the opportunity to unload bottled up feelings about the Rockets’ center. Fans are still sour about Howard's decision to leave LA for Houston.
On Tuesday, Kobe Bryant appeared on NBATV and was asked about his tumultuous season with Howard.
"We have two different personalities," Bryant said. "There's a certain way that I believe you have to approach the game in order to win championships. He had a different way that he felt like would be best and because of that it was tough to see eye to eye on a daily basis."
Bryant, however, did highlight that the two butting superstars were able to eventually put their differences aside and focus on playing winning basketball.
“I thought we played pretty darn well to go from where we were being out of the playoffs at the All-Star break to getting into the playoffs,” Bryant said. “Unfortunately, I went down with an injury, but had I not, I think we would have given San Antonio a serious run for it.”
Although Bryant appears to have moved past Howard’s decision, the majority of Lakers’ fans still have a sour taste in their mouths from how it all went down. Thursday night offers the first of four meetings with Howard this season, and social media is sure to explode with anti-Howard rhetoric.
For Lakers’ fans switching on their television sets at 6:30 pm PST, Thursday’s Lakers versus Rockets game is about far more than 48 minutes of game time.