Feb. 6: ESPN – Kobe Bryant again has urged Dwight Howard to play through some pain while claiming that theLos Angeles Lakers’ center “worries too much” about media and fan criticism.
Howard has missed the past three games because of a torn labrum in his shoulder, aggravating an injury he initially suffered earlier this season.
Despite winning the three games Howard has missed, the Lakers (23-26) are 10th in the Western Conference playoff race. They also will be without star forward Pau Gasol, who has a tear in the plantar fascia of his right foot, an MRI revealed Wednesday. The Lakers fear Gasol could be sidelined four to six weeks, a source told ESPNLosAngeles.com.
“We don’t have time for (Howard’s shoulder) to heal,” Bryant said Wednesday in an exclusive interview with ESPNBoston.com’s Jackie MacMullan. “We need some urgency.”
Feb. 7: SB Nation – One day after Kobe Bryant said that the Lakers “didn’t have time” to wait for Dwight Howard’s shoulder injury to heal, the embattled center responded with some interesting comments of his own.
“I want to play,” Howard said. “I mean, why wouldn’t I want to play? But, at the same time, this is my career, this is my future, this is my life. I can’t leave that up to anybody else because nobody else is going to take care of me. So, if people are pissed off that I don’t play or if I do play, whatever it may be, so what? This is my career. If I go down, then what? Everybody’s life is going to go on. I don’t want to have another summer where I’m rehabbing and trying to get healthy again. I want to come back and have another great year. That’s what I want to do.”
I knew as soon as I heard Kobe’ comments that there was going to be an issue with Dwight. I don’t blame Kobe at all for his view on things. Bryant is the type of player that has played through every injury he’s suffered. Whether it was game 3 of the regular season, game 53, game 82 or a game in the playoffs, Kobe has treated each one as if it were just as important as the last, and the next. Kobe loves the game of basketball. I truly feel that if the Lakers had to cut his salary in half he’d still come out the next day with the same sheer determination as before. That’s him. His competitive nature is one of a kind.
Dwight Howard on the other hand has seemed to have the exact opposite mantra. He’s a genetic freak. He could dominate any big man at any time on the court. But there’s days where he looks half his size. There’s days he comes out with no motivation. There’s days where he has an injury and would rather sit the bench and “rest.” Now granted I know Dwight has his free agent year coming up, but by not playing and not showing some kind of grit through injury, teams are going to be scared off. Now I’m no doctor and neither is Kobe so I have no idea how bad an injury Dwight is going through right now. I always say to never judge what another person is going through just by looking at them because 99% of the time you’ll be wrong. All I know is what I see on the court and off the court.
Kobe is a guy I’d put on my team everyday of the week. He’s the closest in skill, determination, and grit that we’ve ever seen since Jordan. Jordan never took a day off and neither does Bryant. Dwight reminds me of a guy that wants to be liked by everyone. But he also wants to get his money. Thats why last year he signed his extension with Orlando instead of hitting free agency, and that’s why right now he’s saying he wants to play, all the while saving his body for the off-season and his future. He wants his money, but he wants to play where he wants to play. He doesn’t like being coached by D’Antoni and he doesn’t like playing with Kobe because he can’t be the guy. He’s the only player I know who’d rather be the guy and get paid, than be number 2, making a little less, and winning a championship. Everyone hated on LeBron for his “decision” two-years ago, but in hind sight it was the right way to go as a competitor. And way more mature than what Dwight has been doing for two years.