Does Kobe Bryant Need Dwight Howard with Lakers to Solidify Legacy?

Kobe Bryant's name generates an immediate feeling of admiration on the part of most basketball fans. It's synonymous with greatness, championships and that purple and gold jersey that we've gotten so used to seeing dominate over the past decade-plus. 

It's a bit strange that he needs Dwight Howard to truly solidify his NBA legacy, but basketball is sometimes a strange game. 

When Kobe inevitably retires in the near future—perhaps after the 2013-14 season, perhaps later—he'll do so as one of the top 10 players to ever put on an NBA uniform. He'll be able to kick back and look at those five rings on his fingers knowing that he was an integral part of earning each and every piece of jewelry. 

Kobe's career has been filled with plenty of champagne, endless accolades and gaudy statistics. There's no denying that. 

And yet, he's not done building his legacy. Truth be told, no player is finished shaping how he'll be remembered until he finally pulls the plug on his career and retires. Legacies are fluid, intangible beasts, created when a player first strides across the stage to shake David Stern's hand. They change constantly, and, to quote The Wire's Lester Freamon, "all the pieces matter." 

Ever since he was drafted by the Charlotte Hornets and subsequently traded to the Los Angeles Lakers, Kobe has been crafting an indelible legacy. As his career has progressed, it's one that has taken on three major elements. 

The first deals with the Mamba himself and his status as one of the greatest players of all time. This part of his legacy is secure. Even if Kobe retired as you're reading this article, he'd be a lock for the Hall of Fame on the first ballot.

Most people are starting to agree that the shooting guard is part of the elite group of players in the discussion for a historical top-10 spot, and even those who don't believe so tend to place h...

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