Howard recalled an exchange he had with Bryant after he had signed with the Houston Rockets. During a game between the two teams, Howard grabbed a rebound and fouled Bryant by swinging his arms. Bryant famously called Howard “soft” during the heat of the moment.
“He had a comment about me being soft and I think for years I kinda hated him for saying that because I looked at it the wrong way,” he said.
"I think he was talking more so about my mentality, not my physique or how I am on the court. And I didn’t realize that because of the noise surrounding him saying I saw soft. And I hated it. I hated him for that moment."
Howard said it took him a while to learn that at that point in time he was at a different stage mentally than the Lakers legend and that Bryant may not have ever seen a person like Howard — someone who he said can “enjoy basketball” but at the same time not have the mental toughness of Bryant.
“I get it now,” he said. “Everybody reaches different levels of maturity at different times. I think at that time I was ignorant to the level that he was at. But I appreciate you, Kobe. Thank you for saying I was soft. I didn’t realize what you meant ‘til now.”
Howard, an eight-time All-Star, spent one season with the Lakers. He played 76 games during the 2012-13 season and led the NBA with 12.4 rebounds per game. He also averaged 17.1 points and 2.4 blocks.
Howard signed with the Rockets in July 2013, but couldn’t find the same success he had with the Orlando Magic. Since he left Houston in 2016, Howard has found himself with the Atlanta Hawks, Charlotte Hornets and Washington Wizards.
During this offseason, the Wizards traded him to the Grizzlies.
The second part of Howard’s interview on “Fair Game” will air Thursday at 5:30 p.m. ET on FOX Sports 1.