Phil Jackson confirmed most people’s suspicions
In the summer of 2013, when Dwight Howard decided to leave Los Angeles and become a member of the Houston Rockets, a tumultuous and disappointing 1-year tenure as a member of the Los Angeles Lakers had officially come to an end. During a season filled with injury, apparent locker room dissent, and a short period where he and Kobe Bryant appeared to be at odds, Dwight Howard appeared to lose his mojo a bit. In his last season with the Orlando Magic, the team that drafted him with the 1st pick in the 2004 NBA Draft, Howard averaged 20.6 points and 14.5 rebounds per game in 54 games. The following season, his first and only as a Laker, Howard averaged 17.1 points per game and 12.4 rebounds per game, his lowest per game averages in both categories since 2006, his third year in the league.
During the 2013-2014 regular season, Dwight Howard’s Hall of Fame teammate, Kobe Bryant, infamously pushed him to try to play through a shoulder injury, and insinuated that he felt Dwight wasn’t giving it his all in several interviews, which ultimately played a role in Dwight’s decision to join the Houston Rockets after just one season in yellow-and-purple. In an excerpt from his forthcoming book, Eleven Rings, Phil Jackson pretty much affirmed those suspicions.
And Kobe made a moving speech during the pitch, promising to teach Dwight the secret of winning championships that he’d learned from the best in the game.
If the meeting had ended there, it might have worked. But after the presentation, Dwight asked Kobe what he was planning to do after he recovered from his Achilles injury. Was this going to be his last year? “No,” replied Kobe. “I’m planning to be around for three or four more years.”
At that point, according to others in the room, Dwight’s eyes went blank and he drifted away. In his mind, the game was over. […] A few days later he announced that he was signing with the Rockets.