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What injury? Kobe challenges Howard to step up with Gasol out.

Feb 7, 2013, 11:27 AM EDT

Dwight Howard AP

Kobe Bryant is done with the injury excuse.

No doubt injuries have set the Lakers back this season, they’ve been part of the reason they have never really coalesced as a team. But the best teams step up when players are injured. The Chicago Bulls are 29-19 and haven’t had Derrick Rose all season. The Pacers are 31-16 without their leading scorer Danny Granger. Even recently, the Lakers opponent Thursday night — the Boston Celtics — have gone 5-0 since Rajon Rondo went down.

For Kobe it is past time for injuries to be an excuse — for Lakers fans it was past time like a month ago, but that’s another post. The Lakers have won six of seven games and if they are going to make a playoff push the time is now.

The Lakers were dealt a blow with Pau Gasol being out at least six weeks and all the pressure of that falls on Dwight Howard’s achy shoulders. The Lakers need the Dwight Howard they expected this summer and they need him now, Kobe said speaking to Jackie MacMullan of

“We don’t have time for (Howard’s shoulder) to heal,” Bryant said Wednesday in an exclusive interview with’s Jackie MacMullan. “We need some urgency….

“Dwight worries too much about what people think,” Bryant told MacMullan. “I told him, ‘You can’t worry about that. It’s holding you back.’ He says, ‘OK, OK, OK,’ but it’s always hovering around him. He just wants people to like him. He doesn’t want to let anyone down, and that gets him away from what he should be doing.”

The question isn’t “is Kobe right?” The question that matters becomes “is this how you motivate Dwight Howard? Or does this push him away?”

When Howard was traded to Los Angeles following the Dwightmare we noted what we had learned from Kobe and LeBron James — the only thing that swings public opinion back in your favor after a PR disaster is winning. Playing well and winning because of it. Kobe isn’t loved but he is respected. LeBron isn’t on the least liked athletes lists anymore after a gold medal and a title last season.

Howard isn’t on those lists yet either, but only winning will change his reputation that has taken a beating among sports fan. A reputation further hurt by his play this season — no doubt injuries have hampered that play, but fans in Los Angeles don’t want to hear it anymore. They know the winning needs to start right now if the Lakers are going to win enough to even make the playoffs this season. They know Howard is the key to that.

Howard will be a game-time call for the Lakers on Thursday. For the next six weeks, fair or not, the Lakers success will be on his shoulders. We’ll see if he can carry that.

  1. aboogy123456 - Feb 7, 2013 at 11:33 AM

    Now that Gasol is out, get prepared to see what a true leader in the NBA is. Lakers are 10th in the west, they are without gasol and Hill, and I’m confident that Kobe will not back down and use excuses, but will continue to lead his team to push for the playoffs.

    For all those kobe haters that think he’s not a good leader and horrible teammate, watch how he’s going to respond to the adversity the lakers are facing now and then tell me what you think.

    • bardiapayandeh - Feb 7, 2013 at 12:17 PM

      hope not with bombing

    • fanofthegame79 - Feb 7, 2013 at 12:26 PM

      I’m not sure which Kobe you have been watching for the last 17 years, but he isn’t a good leader. The only time Kobe “leads” is if he’s on a really good team. If you look back at some of the sub-par teams the Lakers have had in the last 17 years, Kobe didn’t lead them anywhere but out of the playoffs early (or miss them altogether). Kobe has asked to be traded in the past….asked teammates to be traded, too – all because the team wasn’t winning. If I’m wrong, I’ll own it – but if the Lakers don’t make the playoffs this year, I want to see you back on here owning your post, too.

      • skids003 - Feb 7, 2013 at 12:34 PM

        Right on the money, he’s no leader. Plus, since he’s so wonderful, why don’t he “step up.” He’s so great why hasn’t he led them to the Promised Land?

      • cosanostra71 - Feb 7, 2013 at 12:36 PM

        lol. In 2006, Kobe led a team that started Smush Parker, Brian Cook, Chris Mihm and Kwame Brown alongside him to 45 wins and pushed the Phoenix Suns to 7 games. The next year, he took a team whose third leading scorer was Luke Walton to the playoffs. I don’t blame him for asking to be traded when the Lakers were throwing out lineups like that. I probably would either.

      • rmcdonald23 - Feb 7, 2013 at 2:01 PM

        Yea, I’m sure Steve Nash is wondering right about now, what in the hell did he get himself into!!

      • aboogy123456 - Feb 7, 2013 at 2:38 PM

        @fan of the game – My post said that kobe will not back down and you will see his leadership qualities. I didn’t say that lakers would make the playoffs, but I said that kobe will lead them to push for the playoffs. If this doesn’t happen then I”ll be surprised and own up to it.

        Also, Kobe wasn’t always a leader. He used to be a petulant child but I think the year that Phil came back and kobe and him got along great showed that he became a leader. Look at last season for example. Kobe sat out the last two weeks with injury but was the team’s best coach and cheerleader. He knew how important it was for his teammates to play well and he cheered them on. I can’t think of a better example of a leader in today’s NBA.

      • fanofthegame79 - Feb 8, 2013 at 8:09 AM

        Good points aboogy, didn’t mean to misread your post.

    • loungefly74 - Feb 7, 2013 at 2:38 PM

      if only everybody followed his work ethic…

      you have to “buy into the Kobe system”!!!!

    • badintent - Feb 7, 2013 at 11:29 PM

      I did watch. Beatdown smackdown asswhipedown by Boston. I would understand if it was Heat or Spurs. but Boston? .What else Kobe got in his system ?

  2. danfrommv - Feb 7, 2013 at 11:48 AM

    The Lakers have expected DH to play the last 3 games. DH doesn’t feel he is ready. Don’t expect him to rush back at all. He is playing for the next contract (with Dallas or Atlanta) and isn’t too concerned about this season being lost.

  3. rickkaler - Feb 7, 2013 at 11:58 AM

    Kobe = boss This guy doesn’t know what quitting is!!

  4. unxpexted1 - Feb 7, 2013 at 12:06 PM

    I really think now is the time for Nash to start being assertive. He’s played well for us but very pedestrian most nights. I think its on him and Kobe to carry this team. I’ve seen flashes of Nash’s brilliance with the ball the last couple of days and I hope that continues.

    And somebody please tell me why nobody has signed Kenyon Martin, i just dont get it. I would take him right now.

  5. sportsnut101 - Feb 7, 2013 at 12:07 PM

    dam who does get along with kobe gees usually u wanna be happy where u work but i cant see how d12 is but he deserves this because of the drama he put magic thru can u say karma
    if i was lakers i would trade howard if i could get a first rd pick or 1 star n 2 really good players enough with i have to have the best talent all the time this wat best talent gets u drama drama drama n i can see d12 walking away from lakers

  6. fanz928 - Feb 7, 2013 at 12:19 PM

    If Howard isn’t 100 and gets injured again lakers are done

  7. tampajoey - Feb 7, 2013 at 12:38 PM

    Dwight Howard is an unlikeable crybaby. God should have stuck a vagina on that woman.

  8. fruitcovejag - Feb 7, 2013 at 12:43 PM

    Kobe is a leader. Stay in his a$$ Kobe.

  9. lakerluver - Feb 7, 2013 at 12:43 PM

    I disagree totally, Kobe is one of the greatest leaders the NBA has ever seen. The guy is all about winning titles, he never missed games, he consistently plays through injuries, he gives maximum effort on the court on both ends, and he out works 99% of the players in the league in the off-season. I don’t know what your qualifications of a leader are but those are some of mine. Is he occasionally selfish, is he a butt hole, is he hard on his teammates, yes, yes, and yes. However, the same people that criticize him would love him if he played for their favorite team. He’s a throwback to the days of Bird, MJ, Magic and Isaiah.

  10. drex1 - Feb 7, 2013 at 12:54 PM

    ‘for lakers fans it was past time like a month ago.. but thats another post’

    on this site it probably will be…..

  11. baymac408 - Feb 7, 2013 at 12:54 PM

    Tired of hearing bout this team.. Everyday there are new stories and publicity for these laker girls.. They are not good! Please get them OUT OF THE HEADLINES

    • cosanostra71 - Feb 7, 2013 at 12:58 PM

      Two of the top 5 most commented articles on this blog right now are related to the Lakers. If you have a problem with the number of posts about the Lakers, feel free to stop clicking on and commenting on them. Until you and the other number of people who seem to “not care” about the Lakers do that, don’t be surprised when there are a lot of articles about them.

      • drex1 - Feb 8, 2013 at 9:04 AM

        dont recall saying I had a problem with it. but in terms of not clicking on the posts I pretty much read every post on my commute. but other than if a team plays the lakers/heat/maybe the knickswhen is there ever a post about them? I wouldnt know half the teams in the nba still had a team if I just read this site. sac town dont count they got cousins and the maloofs they were always gonna get ink

  12. soopreme - Feb 7, 2013 at 12:58 PM

    Kobe needs to SHUT UP!!!
    Did Kobe put himself on blast when he was shooting too much up until the last 7 or eight games.
    Its not a coincidence once Kobe started playing team ball, as opposed to selfish shooting 25-30 times a game, that the Lakers have won the last 6 of 7.
    Howard knows what it takes to get to the finals, he practically carried the Magic on his back to the finals .
    If I was Howard there would be no way I would sign with the Lakers with that selfish loudmouth.
    Kobe Please SHUT UP!!!!!!!

    • cosanostra71 - Feb 7, 2013 at 12:59 PM

      “Howard knows what it takes to get to the finals”

      Yeah, Kobe has no idea what it takes.

      • soopreme - Feb 7, 2013 at 2:27 PM

        I didn’t say Kobe doesn’t know what it takes, he’s the one challenging Howard as to what it takes.
        Howard knows what it takes, he’s done it before.

    • unxpexted1 - Feb 7, 2013 at 2:33 PM

      I feel like people seem to forget that they went on a 5 game streat earlier in the year with Kobe shooting 20 plus shots per game too….so which one is it? Is it about the wins or how its done…get it together people.

  13. kinggw - Feb 7, 2013 at 1:06 PM

    Another dumb move by Kobe. I know this impresses the blowhards that think Kobe’s brashness somehow equals the desire to win, but its getting old. Its not going to motivate Howard to play harder, its going to motivate him to leave LA after this season.

    The problems the Lakers had were present long before Howard got there. Its disingenous for Laker fans to act like Howard is the problem when he is still averaging 17, 12, and 2 while at 75%. I like Kobe, but he needs to realize he’s not Jordan. Berating teammates isnt the way to get them to perform better. Chris Paul is one of the best leaders in the NBA if not the best. He is very hard on his teammates, but he never resorts to the press to air his grievances. Kobe could learn something from Paul.

    • loungefly74 - Feb 7, 2013 at 2:43 PM

      Getting old? who else in the NBA has been as successful the past 17 years? and don’t make the excuse “well, he was surrounded by talent.” hey, your team is your team…life aint fair. your fault for being on a crappy team.

      Howard needs to be told to step up. he is fragile.

      Paul is great…but the guy has zero rings…i’ll believe his system works when he has a ring.

  14. 1historian - Feb 7, 2013 at 1:08 PM

    I worked for 36 years as a union laborer and I lost count of how many times I broke a toe or some damn thing. One day I did it on a Friday and since I knew if I went to the doc I could get the rest of the day off w/pay I went to the doc and he told me I had a broken toe (oh really?) and to take the rest of the day off and stay off my feet.

    I went home (stopping to get a 6-pack on the way) and when I got there I rolled a j, smoked up, and all was well.

    If you have a broken toe and you stay off it it’s going to hurt like hell when you DO walk around, so just ignore it.

    This guy Howard is a physical marvel, but he sounds like a wimp.

    NOT the guy you want to look to when the excrement hits the air circulator.

  15. progress2011 - Feb 7, 2013 at 1:26 PM


    Who has the right to challenge a persons injuries. Too many players play thru injuries and jeopardize their careers trying to please an owner, coach or in this case felon.

    Ex: Derrick Rose received advice to not play but continued. After such a devastating injury, he may never be as explosive as he once was.

  16. 00maltliquor - Feb 7, 2013 at 1:37 PM

    God I love Kobe!! He’s setting the precedent for when he walks away and possibly hands the keys over to Dwight Howard in 2 years +/- on how to take being a Laker and winning as he will be the next superstar sucesser.

    I am gonna cry when KB24 walks away for good, especially if we don’t have a strong leader and winner to carry the Lakers on thier back the way Kobe has. D12 is good, but IDK if he is the #1. More like a championship-caliber team’s #2.

    I see where Dwight has to take care of himself and stay healthy in a contract year to get paid and set himself up for the future, so if he doesn’t man up I understand it, but man…..Kobe’s that dude!!

  17. trimaster1 - Feb 7, 2013 at 1:58 PM

    I’m not a Kobe fan, but I respect his work ethic. If you think about it, he’s VERY durable. 17 years he’s been in te league. SEVENTEEN. He doesn’t miss many games, plays through pain, and is a presence when he’s on the court.

    Some may not like his playing style, but the man is tough. I can’t fault him for calling out Dwight, because he gives it his all day after day, year after year.

  18. bravecapeproductions - Feb 7, 2013 at 2:31 PM

    The Lakers play better with Gasol there instead of No-Balls-Howard. One would think that somebody who in reality hasnt accomplished a damn thing in the NBA, would do everything in his “power” to win every game possible(when playing). He has played his ass of maybe 2 or 3 games total. STOP SMILING! STOP TRYING TO BE EVERYONES FRIEND! When you play, play every game like its the most important game. Try showing just a little of Kobes’ killler instinct and you won’t lose!

  19. badintent - Feb 7, 2013 at 2:37 PM

    .Kobe, give your homieHoward a back rub with some DSMO.But keep that” flaxseed oil” on standbye
    Great leaders lead by example.

  20. bucs24 - Feb 7, 2013 at 3:53 PM

    When Howard doesn’t resign with lakers the can try for Bynum lol

  21. omniusprime - Feb 8, 2013 at 9:15 AM

    Kobe is absolutely correct that the Lakers need to show a sense of urgency. I don’t think Kibe was talking to only Dwight, but the whole team when he talked about a sense of urgency. Considering last night’s lackluster performance against the hated Celtics it’s obvious that the team is a bunch of losers. Where was the team and franchise pride at when playing the Laker’s biggest NBA rival?

    It all comes down to a total lack of coaching by Dumbtoni, the worst coach to ever disgrace the Laker bench. Dumbtoni got his chance to run his ignorant small ball system and look how pathetic it looked against the Celtics. I’m hoping for another loss tonight in Charlotte and for the Lakers to keep on losing until Dumbtoni is fired.

    How pathetic Trash Nash and Steve Flake looked. It’s way past time to trade away these two garbage players and get a real good young point guard like Kyrie Irving. It’s no wonder Kobe tried becoming a point guard trying to show Ancient Trash how to do it.

    Fire Dumbtoni!!! Trade Trash Nash!!! Trade Steve Flake!!! Get Well Soon Pau!!!

  22. rgarritt - Feb 8, 2013 at 10:24 AM

    With players like Kobe the word “regression” is not in their vocabulary. Before the season began it was a matter of challenging the Thunder for supremacy in the West. Now, it’s forget home court advantage and hope to get the eighth spot. The Nash deal was a bad one. Jamison doesn’t fit. Dwight doesn’t like pressure.

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