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Dwight Howard says he “loves” confrontational Kobe

Jan 29, 2013, 11:39 AM EDT

Kobe Bryant, Dwight Howard AP

For years the Lakers had a great locker room balance — Kobe Bryant was the bad cop, Derek Fisher the good cop. Kobe would get in a guys face over a missed rotation or whatever, Fisher would come along later as the “big brother” who would listen to you but also tell you how it is.

Fisher is gone and the Lakers are still looking for that balance. The Lakers had a team meeting in Memphis last week where Kobe reportedly was direct with Dwight Howard asking him “do you want to play with me?” Then Kobe said he wanted to direct the offense and Howard needed to take a secondary role then dominate the defense.

So how does the more jovial, smiling Howard like confrontational Kobe? Mark Medina at the Daily News asked him.

“I love it,” Howard said. “That’s something we needed. A lot of times we have a lot of guys come together and nobody wants to step on anybody’s toes or do anything against anybody else. We want to win. In order for us to win, we have to pull the best out of each other every night….

“We all know Kobe is the first option,” Howard said. “Whoever scores after that doesn’t matter. The defensive end is where I take lead and make sure I hold guys accountable and make sure do my job in being active.”

What did you expect him to say?

‘For a couple games the Lakers have gone away from Mike D’Antoni’s offense to an offense where a lot of guys are having success at things they haven’t done a ton of in the past — Kobe the facilitator, Steve Nash a shooter off the ball, Howard making off the ball cuts. Their defense has been a lot better as directed by Howard.

Can they maintain it? Especially on a seven-game road trip (granted mostly against teams under .500)? We will see.

But the chemistry in the locker room appears to be just fine.

  1. abchome - Jan 29, 2013 at 11:54 AM

    Lip service obviously.

    • fanofevilempire - Jan 29, 2013 at 3:20 PM

      Kobe has to pass the ball …………..
      Kobe has to activate the ball………..

  2. cosanostra71 - Jan 29, 2013 at 12:02 PM

    “We all know Kobe is the first option,” Howard said. “Whoever scores after that doesn’t matter. The defensive end is where I take lead and make sure I hold guys accountable and make sure do my job in being active.”

    Love hearing this. This is the way it should be. Howard and Kobe can both be leaders at the same time, and they can both be leaders with Kobe being the #1 option offensively. Howard can and should be the clearcut leader on defense. He should be quarterbacking everyone and he should demand accountability from his teammates on defense. He is the best defensive big in the NBA and he should use his defensive IQ and abilities to lead his teammates and improve the defense. I’m really glad to hear he understands this and is taking a more active leadership role in changing the way we play defense.

    • borderline1988 - Jan 29, 2013 at 12:48 PM

      cosanostra71:

      Every time Howard makes a comment like that, the chances of him not signing with LA this offseason goes up exponentially.

      “We all know Kobe is the first option…whoever scores after that doesn’t matter”.

      That statement sounds ridiculous. It’s an oxymoron. It’s basically saying “We need to play like a team and leave our individual egos aside. It shouldn’t matter who gets the majority of the shots, as long as we get the W. Well, except for Kobe – he’s the first option always.”

      Here’s the thing: On a team of superstars, context dictates who the number 1 option is. If the Lakers are playing a team with a weak or thin frontcourt, give the ball to Howard/Gasol and get the opposing bigs in foul trouble early. If the team has weak outside defenders, give the ball to Kobe.
      That’s what real team ball is. Team ball isn’t having the best centre in the NBA declare himself a second-option to an average (efficiency wise) scoring guard.

      Kobe has been looking to pass instead of shoot the last few games, and the Lakers came away with some impressive wins. Promising, but the question is how long does Kobe stay in this mindset? He’s itching to just chuck 25 shots rather than 12…can we trust Kobe to not care about scoring only 20 points if it means his team will win? That remains to be seen.

      • cosanostra71 - Jan 29, 2013 at 1:25 PM

        “He’s itching to just chuck 25 shots rather than 12…can we trust Kobe to not care about scoring only 20 points if it means his team will win? That remains to be seen.”

        I’m not sure you’ve watched the Lakers much over the last 17 years if that’s what you believe…

      • cosanostra71 - Jan 29, 2013 at 1:31 PM

        Besides, you completely missed the point. Just because Kobe is the #1 option doesn’t mean Dwight isn’t a leader and influencer on the team. As Kurt mentioned, Fisher was just as valuable of a leader for the Lakers as Kobe, and Fisher was never even in the first three options on the Lakers. Dwight needs to realize this. If he works hard on offense he will get his whether he is the first or second option. He needs to realize that he was brought to this team for what he brings on defense and on the boards, and that’s where he needs to take leadership and get his teammates to play up to his level. If he can do that this team will be successful and Dwight will get tons of credit, because quite honestly this team has stunk on defense for a good three years now.

      • loungefly74 - Jan 29, 2013 at 2:18 PM

        @cosanostra71, yes…agree. kobe wants to win. that has never been a question or mystery. does it mean he will take lots of shots when he believes his team is failing…sure. he has too…because no one else is stepping up. i love the new game plan.

        …and yeah, DH is right to say the kobster is the #1 option…i think we need to take that a step further. #1 option to “create points”…be it through an assist, open shot, playing decoy, drawing doubles, etc…the point is kobe has to control how this team scores and make sure they are efficient. DH does need to the “inside linebacker” calling the defense (heck, cause we know D”Antoni aint doing that!). DH, be aggressive, man…agro! beefcake!

      • borderline1988 - Jan 29, 2013 at 3:34 PM

        I understand Dwight can still be a leader on the defensive end. But it’s frustrating for a guy who is that good to be averaging 10 shots a game (and many of them aren’t real post touches). It would feel a bit better if your team is actually winning. But how is DH supposed to feel when Kobe barely plays defense but takes 22 shots a game at a significantly lower FG% than he has? And then Kobe demands that DH take a leadership role on defense?

        If it weren’t for the fact that DH destroyed his own image last year, he would probably speak out against Kobe. Instead, he is playing it the smart way. Pretend like you enjoy playing with Kobe and then re-evaluate your options in the summer.

        The Lakers defense gets carved up by guards. That’s where the biggest problem lies. Who should be taking a leadership role on that one?

      • cosanostra71 - Jan 29, 2013 at 4:02 PM

        your theory is based entirely on conjecture so you’ll excuse me if I don’t take it seriously. Let’s live in facts: the Lakers need Dwight to step up and take a leadership role on defense if they want to win some games this season. He said he wants to do that, and the last couple games he has.

      • urodaddy07 - Jan 29, 2013 at 6:46 PM

        Borderline; Dwight is very limited offensively, more so that is apparent. He manages to score because he is very athletic. He only averages 10 shots because he needs to get him the ball in the exact spot he needs – at the hoop. Its not rocket science. great player, but not a great offensive player. there are days he will score lots of points but he is not too much different from Tyson Chandler – he is more physically imposing but their games are similar. What he needs to do is embrace his role as a mainly defensive guy. If he wants to have a legacy of being both an offensive and defensive threat, he has a lot of work to do in the off-season, starting with free throws.

      • borderline1988 - Jan 29, 2013 at 10:27 PM

        DH isn’t the most skilled big man, but he’s a guy who consistently scored 20PPG at close to a 60% FG%.
        Listen, he’s only averaged 13 – 14 shots per game even when he was on the Magic. But the offense flowed through him. He was involved on the offensive end, and that kind of involvement kept him energized on the defensive end (which btw is the exact same thing that is going on with Gasol, and to a lesser extent, went on with Bynum. Big men need to be involved).

        All players should be working hard at all times – these guys are paid professionals. But fact is demanding that Howard take charge on the defensive end when he’s somewhat ignored on the other end of the floor is not really going to work.

        And the proof is in the pudding…do you think Kobe would be a happy camper and giving it his all on the defensive end if he were limited to 10 shots per game?

        My solution – instead of having Kobe shoot 22 – 23 times a game…take 6 of those attempts and divy them up between Gasol and Howard, especially in the first halves of games. It would make a difference. Gasol and Howard have the potential to be the most dominant front line in the NBA on both ends of the floor.

    • badintent - Jan 29, 2013 at 7:40 PM

      Was.Was the best. The 2011 Defesive Player of the year is NY’s KNICK Tyson Chandler(Iwith no back operation).But we all know Earl Clark is the Messiah, right ? Hell, right now, I take Clippers Johnson over Howard for blocking shots.

      • cjispro - Jan 29, 2013 at 9:00 PM

        Jordan or Johnson?

      • cosanostra71 - Jan 29, 2013 at 10:44 PM

        The Clippers don’t have any players with the last name Johnson.

      • badintent - Jan 30, 2013 at 1:13 PM

        Sorry guys, It is Jordan. I just have a natural reflex against anyone else having the name Jordan in the NBA( not a bulls fans, only MJ)

  3. skids003 - Jan 29, 2013 at 12:03 PM

    He should have told the great one that “No, no one wants to play with you, you ball hogging egotistical moron.”

  4. ultichiva - Jan 29, 2013 at 12:03 PM

    Kobe is Dwight Howard’s DaD.

  5. waggonerkris - Jan 29, 2013 at 12:53 PM

    “For a couple games the Lakers have gone away from Mike D’Antoni’s offense to an offense where a lot of guys are having success at things they haven’t done a ton of in the past — Kobe the facilitator”

    I cant stand these east coast writers who write about things they know nothing about. Kobe has led the team in assists the last 7 years, resulting in 2 championships and 3 finals apperances. He has played this role many times in the past, too bad all the east coast writers have trouble seeing whats happening on the left coast because they have Lebron’s nuts in their mouths. Salty arent they?

    • Kurt Helin - Jan 29, 2013 at 2:39 PM

      I live in Los Angeles, attend Lakers games regularly and for years ran a Lakers blog (which is ultimately how I got this job). Kobe can facilitate but to suggest that has been his primary role through his career is just wrong.

  6. exhelo1 - Jan 29, 2013 at 1:05 PM

    Whoever has the best chance of scoring should be taking the shot, on a possession-by-possession basis. If Kobe continues to trust his teammates, this roster can contend.

    • skids003 - Jan 29, 2013 at 3:42 PM

      It’s not a metter of him trusting them, it’s a matter of him controlling his huge ego.

  7. Foul Dwimmerlaik - Jan 29, 2013 at 6:29 PM

    You know what they say about bad-tasting medicine… deal with it coz it’s good for you.

  8. omniusprime - Jan 30, 2013 at 9:04 AM

    Howard never had a player so good that that player would push him to be better. Howard used to have to do that but he didn’t. Howard is realizing why Kobe won 5 championships, because Kobe is dedicated to winning. It looks like Kobe’s winning attitude is becoming infectious with not just Howard but the whole team.

    It’s a good thing the Lakers went away from Dumbtoni’s idiot offense. Why do the Lakers need a coach like Dumbtoni if they’re starting to play for Coach Kobe? The Lakers ought to fire Dumbtoni to save money.

    Fire Dumbtoni!!!

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