Bryant gave his side of the story in 2015

Limited Deion Sanders Jersey Stung by superstars like LeBron James and Stephen Curry sitting out back-to-back Saturday night games, ESPN on-air talent is criticizing the network’s one-way business relationship with the league.

ESPN pays the NBA $1.4 billion a year for TV rights. ESPN was not happy Saturday when the Cavaliers casually announced that their Big Three of James, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love would sit out that night’s nationally televised game on sister Disney network ABC. (Aside: Neither was the NBA.)

Bryant gave his side of the story in 2015, telling USA Today that Howard was uncomfortable with the realities players face in a championship locker room.

For me, it’s about making sure the Lakers have the right person in place who’s going to carry this franchise, Bryant said. I tried teaching Dwight. I tried showing him. But the reality is that when you have a perception of what it is to win a championship 鈥?and most perceptions of what it’s like to win are a very outgoing, very gregarious locker room where you pick each other up and you’re friends all the time. That’s the perception. And I think that’s what his perception was of what the idea is.
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But when he saw the reality of it, it made him uncomfortable. And it’s very tough to be able to fight through that, to deal with that challenge. And I don’t think he was willing to deal with that uncomfortable and combative nature.

Of course, the Lakers’ failures weren’t all on Howard’s broad shoulders. Forward Metta World Peace blamed coach Mike D’Antoni’s system more than the Howard-Bryant relationship. NBA teams have witnessed what D’Antoni can do with the right fit in Phoenix and Houston, but the roster in LA simply didn’t match up with D’Antoni’s vision.

Throw in inconsistent performances individually and as a team, injuries to key players and a general lack of cohesion all season long, and you can see how that fun train came to a screeching halt.