Dwight Howard, Kobe Bryant Prepare To Make Sacrifices In Order To Win A Title In L.A.

October 2, 2012 – 9:00 am by Eric Schmoldt

The start of NBA training camps is upon us and, to me, there is no bigger storyline heading into the year than the revamped Los Angeles Lakers and how quickly they can become successful. Not even newcomer Dwight Howard can predict how fast the group will come together, but he knows everyone on the floor will need to make sacrifices if the team is going to win an NBA Championship.

Kobe Bryant and Dwight Howard joined ESPN Los Angeles with Mason and Ireland to discuss the addition of Steve Nash to the team, what changes that means for Bryant’s game, how opponents will try to defend the new group, what life has been like for Howard since he came to L.A., how fast the team can be successful, Howard’s Kobe impression and Howard’s health.

FROM KOBE BRYANT:

Steve Nash called you before he signed with the Lakers. When you hung up, did you feel like he’d be joining you?:

“I felt like I made the strongest argument that I could possibly make. The rivalries, we talked about that from the beginning. What I said was, ‘Yeah, we’ve had great rivalries, but in those rivalries, we’ve gained so much mutual respect for each other.’ But beyond the rivalries, we came in this league together, same draft. We were kind of the guys that were not really known of in that draft, and look at what we’ve accomplished. So, we kind of have this bond going back to ’96 and we kind of want to carry it on.”

What makes him so good?:

“I think he sees the floor better than most. I don’t know where it comes from. … He sees the game from a facilitating standpoint, the way I see it from a scoring standpoint. I don’t know if it comes from his soccer-playing days, but he just sees so many options out there on the floor, and it’s just so natural for him. It’s going to be fun playing with him.”

On those who say it won’t work because he’ll have the ball less and he just loves to score:

“Here’s the thing: Some people are just very, very dumb. I keep hearing it from some people that I just want to score and that other stuff. Nobody has won more championships than me in my entire generation. I’ve got five of them. You can’t be selfish and win one championship, let alone five. That argument should be in the coffin by now. I don’t like having the ball.”

How do you think other teams are going to try to defend this lineup?:

“I think what they’ll try to do is stick to defensive principles — things like shrink the floor, pack the paint. … I think they’ll try to strip it down and have everybody be at the most basic form of defending, which is shrinking the floor. It’ll be very hard for them to say, ‘OK, we’re going to double Kobe here, double Dwight there,’ because that’s not the type of system we’re going to be playing anyway.”

On winning another Olympic gold medal, which he has said is going to be his last one:

“It was a beautiful experience. I tried to go to as many events as possible. … That’s what it’s about. I had this really great day planned out for my family. We were going to go watch Federer play, and then right after that Serena had a match. … The Federer match turns out to be the longest match in Olympic history, so we’re sitting there and I’m like, ‘My schedule has gone to crap right now.’ … But it was great.”

FROM DWIGHT HOWARD:

What has your life been like since you came to the Lakers?:

“It’s been crazy. It really has, but it’s been fun, just being here, the excitement around town. It’s just crazy. I can just feel it. I see it when I go places. Everybody’s excited and I’m just happy to be a part of it.”

How long do you think it’ll take this new team to come together?:

“It just depends on where our focus is and everybody has to sacrifice something. In order for us to win, we’ve got to put all the individual things aside, and I think this team is already like that. All of us have won those individual awards. … We’ve done everything that we would want as individuals. We just want to win now. That’s our only goal, is to win. Everything else comes second.”

What will you have to sacrifice?:

“Myself, my body, whatever I have, sacrifice it for the team. That’s the most important thing. When I’m on the floor, I’ve always been a person that plays hard, from the time the game starts until the end. … And respect, respecting each other, respecting the game, respecting the process and respecting the journey.”

On his Kobe Bryant impression:

“I was doing the Kobe impression in the Olympics when we played together. I was doing the Kobe impression then and all that. Then they asked to do it when I got here, so I was like, ‘OK, cool.’ … He used to always say, ‘You know, you know.’ … I did his impression, then I did the Shaq song, so we used to have fun with all that.”

Are you hoping to be playing on the opening day of the regular season?:

“I don’t know what to tell you. I’m waiting on the doctor. We’ve been working out every day. … Each day I get stronger and better, haven’t had any setbacks. I’m just thankful; it could’ve been a lot worse. I don’t think people really understand how tough it is to have some of your discs removed from your back. … I’m just happy that I went through the whole process. It really just made me a stronger person, maybe a better person, and I understand my body a lot better now than I did before, and ways to really take care of my body. When you’re young, you think you’re invincible.”

Listen to Kobe Bryant and Dwight Howard on ESPN Radio L.A. here and here

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