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Kobe Bryant welcomed Dwight Howard to the Los Angeles Lakers by telephone from the Olympics, overjoyed to have the superstar centre as a new NBA teammate for the upcoming season.

“It’s going to be sensational,” Bryant said. “I talked to him this morning. He was happy to be out there. I told him LA is the perfect place for him. I’m excited for the Laker franchise because they have a great player who can carry that franchise long after I’m gone.”

The move was a flashback to a similar deal done during the 1996 Atlanta Olympics that saw Orlando giant Shaquille O’Neal go to the Lakers, where he and Bryant combined to win three titles.

“Look at all the great centres that have come to LA. He’s the next in that line,” Bryant said of Howard. “It’s a great organisation for him.”

Bryant has won two more NBA titles alongside Spanish big man Pau Gasol, his opponent for Olympic gold on Sunday, and hopes to add a sixth title to his career collection next season, one that would match NBA icon Michael Jordan’s career total.

“Once it was confirmed, my mentality shifted from excitement to execution – how are we going to do it,” Bryant said. “He’s not going to have to sacrifice anything. He’s going to get more touches (of the ball) than he did in Orlando.”


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