Anyone who has watched the Los Angeles Lakers play in their last few games can tell you that something isn’t right with the guy who is supposed to be the franchise player for years to come.
Dwight Howard looks disinterested at best on the floor, and gives off a loud vibe of indifference in the outcome of the game. He has clashed with Kobe Bryant over the course of this season, but it was hard to imagine that not happening. This is the Black Mamba we are talking about here, the same Mamba that chased another Hall-of-Fame Center, in Shaquille O’Neal, out of town because of personal problems.
Bryant is the ultimate competitor, a warrior who brings everything he has to the court every single night. He has even taken on the role of a facilitator over LA’s last few games, and they have won six of their last eight as a result.
Howard, though, just doesn’t seem to have that killer instinct that Bryant has. He isn’t nasty enough, he just wants to get his points, slam a few highlight dunks and call it a night.
The two personalities were bound to clash eventually, especially under Mike D’Antoni, who has never been a coach that has been able to unite locker rooms. So, when Howard went down with a shoulder injury, with Pau Gasol already sidelined with an ankle injury, Bryant took to the media.
Bryant said that Lakers “don’t have time for (Howard’s shoulder) to heal. We need some urgency.” He went on to say that “We don’t have three years. We’ve got this year.”
Howard responded to Bryant with: “that’s his opinion; that’s it. He’s not a doctor. I’m not a doctor. That’s his opinion.”
But guess what? Howard did play in the Lakes’ next game, but didn’t play particularly well. He went for nine points (4-8 shooting) in 28 minutes in a blowout loss to the undermanned Boston Celtics (116-95). Isn’t Howard supposed to be the best Center in the NBA?
Howard’s most telling comments came the morning of the Boston game, in which he said this:
“I want to play. 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.”
How I translate that: Howard is saving himself for the next team that he signs with, because he will not be back in Los Angeles next season- at least not if Bryant is still running the “Lakeshow.”