AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREUCLA alum Kenny Clark signs four-year contract extension with Packers“It opens up a lot of people’s eyes to what’s really important,” Green said, “and that it’s OK and it’s not uncool to actually say I love you to someone or to hold them tight.”Hey, L.A.: You know how you’ve embraced Dwight Howard this season? Hold him tight.Howard left the locker room on Friday without speaking with reporters; the only current Laker to have been teammates in L.A. with Bryant wasn’t ready yet to share his feelings about losing him.Understandable. In the other locker room down the hall last week, the Clippers’ Montrezl Harrell reminded reporters that this tragedy won’t adhere to anybody’s news cycle: “We’re never gonna be able to get over that and definitely not gonna be able to get over it within a couple of days.”And so, after a win Tuesday, Howard gathered the strength to address Bryant’s death for the first time. Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Error Editor’s note: This is the Wednesday, Feb. 5 edition of the Purple & Bold Lakers newsletter. To receive the newsletter in your inbox, sign up here.After keeping their silence publicly in the days immediately following Kobe Bryant’s death on Jan. 26, the floodgates opened for several Lakers after their game Friday, their first since the fatal helicopter crash that killed Bryant and eight others.LeBron James addressed the international expanse of Laker Nation pregame and delivered another clear message afterward: “Hug the s— out of your family.”Quinn Cook spoke about mourning beside fans at L.A. Live. Kyle Kuzma talked about having shed so many tears during the week he reckoned he was totally cried out. Danny Green hoped the world saw the Lakers leaning on each other and exalting Bryant’s memory and took that to heart. “My thoughts when it happened? I was extremely hurt. Yeah, it really hurt bad,” Howard said. “I didn’t know what to do or say but I was extremely hurt. Still kind of lost for words, it doesn’t seem real that it happened. I never expected in a million years that we’d be talking about Kobe passing away. So it was very sad, man, I just cried myself to sleep talking about it. And it still hurts to this day.”The man who’d spurned the Lakers and Bryant and been reviled by die-hard fans upon his departure after a disappointing first-round playoff exit in 2013, Howard already had ingratiated himself with L.A.’s most passionate fan base this season.He reintroduced himself this summer by saying, “I’m looking forward to just being the best teammate, the best person in the community, the best I can be for this franchise.” And then he backed it up, proving – with magnificent energy, important production off the bench, and an accommodating and joyful attitude – to be a perfect fit on this championship-caliber Lakers team.“A lot of people thought me and Kobe hated each other and stuff like that,” Howard said. “There were times where we just didn’t understand each other and I didn’t get a chance to tell him how appreciative I was for our time together and how thankful I was to be back here in L.A. and stuff like that, so, that was pretty hard for me. I took it pretty hard, the death of Kobe. My heart is with the family and all the families that were affected and Laker Nation.”There’d been a fun exchange between Bryant and Howard before a Nov. 17 victory over the Atlanta Hawks, when the retired Lakers legend surprised the now-beloved big man with a jocular slap on the back of the neck.“I didn’t even know who he was,” Howard told reporters then. “I was about to elbow him, but then he said, ‘Hey, what’s up? You’re playing good.’ I said, ‘OK.’ … It was cool. I was glad he came to the game. It was a lot of fun having him in the building. The crowd was going HAM, so it was great to have him.”On Tuesday, Howard thought about that exchange and tried to describe why it mattered so.“It was very meaningful, just seeing him,” said Howard, who’d recently gotten word that Bryant was game to assist him in the All-Star Weekend slam dunk contest later this month in Chicago. “But I just never thought it would be Kobe. And it just doesn’t even still feel real. It is really hard for myself to put into words how I felt about the situation. I never thought that I would see a teammate of mine pass at such a young age, so it really, it hit me hard.“All year long I just wanted to show him that I was gonna do whatever it takes to help this team win. I’ve been wearing his shoes since the season started. I wanted him in the dunk contest, all these things, just to see him go away just like that – I guess the spiritual side … was knowing that for all of us here, we’ve got to be appreciative for the time that we have on this earth, and we can’t take any moment, take anybody or take anything for granted. It’s just a surreal situation.”— Mirjam Swanson“A lot of people thought me and Kobe hated each other and stuff like that,” Lakers center Dwight Howard said. “There were times where we just didn’t understand each other and I didn’t get a chance to tell him how appreciative I was for our time together and how thankful I was to be back here in L.A. and stuff like that, so, that was pretty hard for me. I took it pretty hard, the death of Kobe. My heart is with the family and all the families that were affected and Laker Nation.” (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)Editor’s note: Thanks for reading the Purple & Bold Lakers newsletter. To receive the newsletter in your inbox, sign up here.Additional CoverageAll of the Southern California News Group’s extensive Kobe coverage – For links to photos, news stories, columns, features and more, start here.Lakers win, and find their joy – LeBron James’ splashy 15-point fourth-quarter output seals the deal Tuesday.‘A superhero who was actually human’ – Pop remembers Kobe.Balancing business, emotions during trade season – ‘It just comes with the territory.’Handling grief – Kyle Goon wrote about the tough task of boxing up Kobe Bryant’s tributes at L.A. Live.The tributes continue – The Lakers face an emotional challenge no other title contender will.Turnaround win – The Lakers rebound from Friday’s emotional game with a win in Sacramento.‘Boy is there a lot of respect.’ – Now the Sacramento Kings coach, Luke Walton shares some memories about his time as Kobe’s Lakers teammate.