"Dwight, to be a three-time Defensive Player of the Year, you've got to have a little of that dog in you," Bryant said on Tuesday. "It's just a matter of him digging deep and just pulling it out. But it's already there. It's just a matter of him having it become habit."
But in yet another sign that Howard and Bryant are off to a pretty decent start in this budding relationship that pretty much has to work for the Los Angeles Lakers to make good on their potential, Howard seems as if he took Bryant's comments pretty well.
"I heard about what he said," Howard said. "People might take that the wrong way. He's not saying be a jerk or an a-hole to people, he's basically saying, 'On the court. He loves the way I play, but I can be more of one of those people.' "
The reason the question came up in the first place is pretty simple: Howard has become known for his sunny personality and sense of humor almost as much as his basketball ability. He's fun. Silly at times. Like on Wednesday night when he danced for the crowd at Citizens Business Bank Arena when the Korean pop hit "Gangnam Style" played over the loudspeaker.
Bryant compared Howard's personality to former Lakers great Magic Johnson, who was "extremely competitive, but he still played the game with a smile on his face."
Howard seemed to like that comparison.
"I think a lot of people get it confused," Howard said of his personality. "They think I don't take it serious because I'm smiling or things like that. When it's time to get it done, I go and get it."