Olympics: Kobe thrilled over Howard trade to Lakers

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

"It's going to be sensational," Bryant said after helping the defending champion US Olympic squad of NBA stars defeat Argentina 109-83 to reach a gold medal rematch of the 2008 final against Spain.

"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 organization for him."

Bryant has won two more NBA titles alongside Spanish big man Pau Gasol, his opponent for 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."

Howard was a member of the US gold medal team at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. In 54 games last season, he averaged 20.6 points, a career-best 14.5 rebounds and 2.1 blocked shots.

The Lakers completed a 12-player, four-team NBA deal Friday that brought the Orlando Magic star to the Lakers and among other moves also sent US Olympian Andre Iguodala from the Philadelphia 76ers to the Denver Nuggets.

"You get immune to it," Iguodala said. "It's part of the game of basketball. It's the way things are now. You are not surprised by anything. You take ups and downs in life. That's part of the game.

"I am happy to be in the NBA, happy to have a job, happy to play basketball."

The Lakers traded centre Andrew Bynum to Philadelphia to allow the 76ers to part with Iguodala to Denver, but Bryant compared the loss to picking up Gasol from Memphis in a trade deal a few years ago without losing much talent.

"The consensus was we were not going to get Dwight without giving up Pau," Bryant said. "I thought it was possible. We got Pau for virtually nothing. History repeats itself."

Howard would have been on the US Olympic team had he not suffered a back injury during the season and going against new Laker teammate Gasol for gold.

"I'm more than happy," Gasol said. "I have a lot of hopes for the (Lakers) team we have for next year."

Iguodala, who helped the 76ers rise from the NBA cellar, was philosophical and trying to focus on the gold-medal challenge still at hand.

"I'm just looking for what's next," he said. "You just try to focus on the task at hand. The next hurdle for myself is to play for this team.

"That's why I'm on this team. I can work with a lot of players in a lot of ways."

He was in no mood to reflect on his move to the Western Conference and whether the Lakers with Howard, Bryant and Gasol would be better than the reigning champion Miami Heat with LeBron James, Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade.

"Right now, Team USA is the best team. We're better than both those teams," Iguodala said. "I've still got work to do. I've still got responsibilities I still have to focus on."

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