Skip to content

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 ESPN.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….

“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.

Latest Posts
  1. Jerry Stackhouse has contacted Lionel Hollins about a coaching job with Nets

    Jul 23, 2014, 10:21 AM EDT

    Adidas Eurocamp - Day 2 Getty Images

    Stackhouse coached against Hollins at adidas Eurocamp in Italy this summer.

  2. LeBron James apparently remembers everything

    Jul 23, 2014, 9:47 AM EDT

    Miami Heat v San Antonio Spurs - Game Five Getty Images

    LeBron has used more than just physical gifts to become all-time great NBA player

  3. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar training Roy Hibbert

    Jul 23, 2014, 9:16 AM EDT

    Roy Hibbert Roy Hibbert

    Pacers center needs confidence more than a skyhook

  4. Five biggest surprises from Summer League

    Jul 23, 2014, 8:45 AM EDT

    D-League Select v New Orleans Pelicans Getty Images

    Russ Smith had a nice Summer League.

  5. Report: Jameer Nelson to meet with Mavericks

    Jul 23, 2014, 8:00 AM EDT

    Orlando Magic v Cleveland Cavaliers Orlando Magic v Cleveland Cavaliers

    Dallas, seeking third point guard, has already met with Mo Williams

  6. Cavaliers sign second-round pick Joe Harris

    Jul 23, 2014, 1:00 AM EDT

    Coastal Carolina v Virginia Getty Images

    As Cavaliers position themselves for Kevin Love trade, now was the time to sign No. 33 pick

  7. Report: Grizzlies to hire Jeff Bzdelik as assistant coach

    Jul 23, 2014, 12:00 AM EDT

    ACC Basketball Tournament - First Round Getty Images

    Bzdelik, who most recently coached Wake Forest, previously served as Nuggets head coach

  8. Justin Bieber and Kevin Durant share brunch (photo)

    Jul 22, 2014, 11:20 PM EDT

    Justin Bieber Justin Bieber

    Bieber wearing a Nets hat, so you know what that means…

  9. Cavaliers trade with Jazz, gain pieces for Kevin Love deal

    Jul 22, 2014, 7:22 PM EDT

    Kevin Love, Jeremy Evans Kevin Love, Jeremy Evans

    Utah reportedly trades John Lucas III, Malcolm Thomas and Erik Murphy to Cleveland for Carrick Felix, second-round pick and $1 million

  10. Clippers CEO: If Sterling remains owner then Doc Rivers, players, sponsors all ready to bolt

    Jul 22, 2014, 6:53 PM EDT

    Sterling will be removed as Clippers owner one way or another because he is toxic to the organization right now.

  11. Bojan Bogdanovic officially becomes member of Brooklyn Nets. Finally.

    Jul 22, 2014, 6:02 PM EDT

    JSF Nanterre v Fenerbahce Ulker Istanbul - Turkish Airlines Euroleague Getty Images

    He’s going to get some of Paul Pierce’s minutes.

  12. Isaiah Austin says NBA has offered him a job once he finishes degree

    Jul 22, 2014, 5:11 PM EDT

    Adam Silver does the classy thing. Again.

  13. Agent spins Evan Turner could have gotten $10 million a year if he’d stayed in Philly. Nope.

    Jul 22, 2014, 4:20 PM EDT

    Los Angeles Lakers v Indiana Pacers Getty Images

    Evan Turner is now a reclamation project — if he wants to get paid he has to become more efficient.

  14. Report: Cavaliers trying to acquire other players to put in Kevin Love trade

    Jul 22, 2014, 3:38 PM EDT

    Minnesota Timberwolves v Los Angeles Clippers Getty Images

    It means the Timberwolves want to send Kevin Martin out in the Love deal, Cavs trying to make that happen.

  15. Report: Cavaliers to sign Andrew Wiggins as early as Wednesday

    Jul 22, 2014, 2:46 PM EDT

    Milwaukee Bucks v Cleveland Cavaliers Getty Images

    Once signed, he can’t be traded for 30 days … to the Timberwolves, for example.

  16. Report: Bulls making push to trade for Kevin Love

    Jul 22, 2014, 2:04 PM EDT

    Kevin Love

    Taj Gibson and Jimmy Butler would reportedly be sent to Minnesota.

  17. Report: NBA warned stars against participating in clinics in the Philippines

    Jul 22, 2014, 1:42 PM EDT

    Adam Silver Adam Silver

    Blake Griffin, James Harden, Kawhi Leonard and Damian Liillard among players who would face fines if they participated in a planned exhibition in Manila.

Featured video

Stephenson goes elsewhere for his future
Top 10 NBA Player Searches
  1. K. Love (4481)
  2. A. Wiggins (3383)
  3. L. James (3357)
  4. E. Bledsoe (3134)
  5. R. Allen (2914)
  1. K. Bryant (2886)
  2. C. Boozer (2831)
  3. L. Stephenson (2763)
  4. D. Rose (2735)
  5. K. Marshall (2359)