Dwight Howard had a simple response when asked about Los Angeles Lakers teammate Kobe Bryant‘s comments suggesting that he’s going to have to play through the torn labrum that’s sidelined him for the last three games.
“That’s his opinion,” Howard told ESPN’s Mark Schwartz at Thursday’s shootaround prior to the Lakers’ game vs. the Boston Celtics. “He’s not a doctor, I’m not a doctor, so that’s his opinion.”
He was visibly frustrated during the interview, and went on to explain that he’s played through injury before while with the Orlando Magic, resulting in offseason surgery and significant missed time off the court in order to prepare for the 2012-13 season. The situation is delicate, to put it lightly. The Lakers have to keep Howard happy enough to want to stay on as the player of the future when he enters free agency in the summer of 2013. As expected, he’s been non-committal on his plans moving forward.
Bryant doesn’t have time, and Howard needs it in order to get his body right. He clearly hasn’t been himself, and only rest will allow him to heal. The Lakers as constructed were built to win now. In fact, they needed to win yesterday. But these factors coupled with the fact that Pau Gasol is now out for a significant amount of time spell trouble in Los Angeles on top of the requisite drama in the world of basketball hyperbole.
Is it boiling over?
“I want to play. Why wouldn’t I want to play?” said a noticeably agitated Howard. ‘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. 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. So what? This is my career. If I go down, then what? Everybody’s life is going to go on.”
There is an obvious conflict of interest here. Bryant at 34 years-old has no time to spare to get his sixth ring. Howard has been riddled with injuries and wants to protect his body in the prime of his career. He could also be reluctant to sell out for a team that he may not have a long-term future with.
The entire situation is a mess, but in Los Angeles, it’s just game day.
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