In an open and honest interview on FS1's "Fair Game with Kristine Leahy," Howard reflected on why he and Bryant were often at odds, specifically addressing the incident in which the Lakers legend called Howard "soft" and challenged him to "try me."
"I think for years I kinda hated him for saying that because I looked at it the wrong way," Howard said when he recalled Bryant's comment. "I think he was more so talking about my mentality. Not my physique, not how I am on the court. Like my edge. And I didn't realize that because of all the noise surrounding him saying I was soft. And I hated it. I hated him for that moment."
Dwight says he hated Kobe for years for calling him soft, but now he appreciates and understands it. pic.twitter.com/sswpebeWfm— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) July 18, 2019
The now-Grizzlies center said that, after taking some time to recognize what Bryant meant, he is now thankful for the comments.
"Everybody reaches different levels of maturity at different times," Howard said. "I think at that time I was ignorant to the level that he was at. So I appreciate you, Kobe. Thank you for saying I was soft. I didn't realize what you meant until now."
Howard, 33, averaged 12.8 points per game for the Wizards last season. The Grizzlies will be his fifth different team since leaving the Lakers in the summer of 2013.