Dwight Howard is slated to make his return to the Duke Contest this year at All-Star Weekend in Chicago. The Los Angeles Lakers big man will participate in the event for the first time since competing in three in a row from 2007-09, and as he explained on Tuesday night, he was slated to have an old foe-turned-friend assist in one of his dunks.
Howard spoke to the media following the Lakers’ 129-102 win over the San Antonio Spurs on Tuesday night, a game in which he had 12 points on 5-for-5 shooting and 11 rebounds in 22 minutes off the bench. As he explained, prior to Kobe Bryant’s tragic passing in a helicopter crash last week, the two planned on teaming up for one of Howard’s dunk attempts next Saturday.
Dwight Howard says prior to the accident he got word that Kobe Bryant was indeed going to come to Chicago to join him in the dunk contest to help him on a dunk. Dwight says it’s “heartbreaking” that he never got the chance to tell him how much he appreciated him.
— Dave McMenamin (@mcten) February 5, 2020
Bryant was, infamously, Howard’s teammate for one year in Los Angeles. The two were united after L.A. swung a trade for the guy who, at the time, was considered the best center in the NBA, but Howard’s affable personality and Bryant’s trademark intensity clashed, and after one year, Howard was traded to Houston. They did, however, seem to smooth things over in later years, with Bryant praising the Lakers’ decision to sign Howard this past offseason.
There will be numerous tributes to Bryant at All-Star Weekend, including the game’s format getting changed in his honor and Team LeBron and Team Giannis wearing 2 and 24, respectively, as they were the numbers Bryant and his late daughter Gianna wore.