Kobe Bryant daps up LeBron James, reconnects with Dwight Howard in rare Staples Center appearance

Jack BaerYahoo Sports Contributor
Kobe Bryant had some fun at Staples Center on Sunday. (Photo by Allen Berezovsky/Getty Images)
Kobe Bryant had some fun at Staples Center on Sunday. (Photo by Allen Berezovsky/Getty Images)

Kobe Bryant picked a good Los Angeles Lakers game for his first visit to Staples Center in a while.

Making a rare post-retirement appearance at the arena in which he played the vast majority of his NBA career, Bryant was on hand to watch the Lakers dominate the Atlanta Hawks 122-101 and have some fun with the team in the process.

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Sitting courtside, Bryant had a quick moment with LeBron James in the first quarter, which immediately preceded a 3-pointer from the superstar to put the Lakers up 24-5.

James would go on to post 33 points, 12 assists, 7 rebounds and no turnovers, finishing +30 in a game where no other player cracked the 20s.

Quite possibly the most eyebrow-raising interaction was an amicable exchange with Dwight Howard who has been like a new man in his second stint with the Lakers.

You might remember some friction between Bryant and Howard during and after the first stint. For now, it looks like the hatchet has been buried.

“I didn’t even know who it was,” Howard said after the game, per USA Today’s Mark Medina. “He slapped me on the neck and I was about to elbow him. Then he said, ‘What’s up, man. You’re playing good.’ It was cool, man. I was glad he came to the game.”

It might be surprising to hear Bryant sightings at Staples Center are a rarity these days, given that the Lakers crowd will cheer the future Hall of Famer whenever he’s on screen.

However, it seems Bryant thinks he has much more important things to do at home, according to an interview with the Los Angeles Times in October:

“I have a life and I have my routine at home,” Bryant said. “It’s not that I don’t want to go [to Lakers games], but I’d rather be giving B.B. a shower and sing Barney songs to her. I played 20 years and I missed those moments before. For me to make the trip up to Staples Center, that means I’m missing an opportunity to spend another night with my kids when I know how fast it goes. … I want to make sure the days that I’m away from them are days that I absolutely have to be. I’d rather be with them than doing anything else.”

Part of the gap between family time and Lakers time was bridged by Bryant bringing his oldest daughter, 13-year-old Gianna, to the game with him. It sounds like she had a pretty good time too.

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