Kobe Bryant says he's still top dog in L.A., but he plans to mentor Dwight Howard on his new team. (Andrew D. Bernstein/Getty Images)
As Kobe Bryant spoke to reporters during the Lakers' media day on Monday, he made it clear that the addition of Dwight Howard wouldn't change his status as team leader, according to ESPN's Dave McMenamin:
"I got a question earlier about whose team this is," Bryant said. "I don't want to get into the, 'Well, we share ...' No, it's my team."
But Bryant plans to mentor Howard and pass the team after he retires:
"I want to make sure that Dwight, when I retire, this is going to be his. I want to teach him everything I possibly know so that when I step away this organization can ride on as if I never left."
And Howard appears to be willing to learn:
"I'm willing to go through that process, learn from one of the greatest to ever play the game and I think it will be great," Howard said. "I think learning from a guy like Kobe, I know he's going to be tough on me but I expect that and I want him to do that. So, I'll take all the heat that he's going to give me because I know at the end of the day that's going to make me a better player and a better person and it's going to make this team better."
Howard, 26, was traded to the Lakers in a four-team trade in August. He led the Magic with 20.6 points and 2.1 blocks per game last season. Bryant, 34, has played for the Lakers for the entirety of his 16-year career and averaged 27.9 points and 38.5 minutes per game last year, tops on the team in both categories.