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. Toronto Sun fires shot at aging Brooklyn Nets (PHOTO)

    Apr 19, 2014, 12:30 PM EDT

    Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce

    “Garnett and Pierce are so old the Raptor had to ask his dad about them.”

  2. Adam Silver says after owners’ meeting raising age limit top priority

    Apr 19, 2014, 9:29 AM EDT

    Adam Silver Adam Silver

    The owners are behind Silver’s effort to raise the age limit. Now there’s just the pesky matter of negotiating with the players’ union.

  3. PBT Extra: Are Pacers or Spurs in any trouble in first round?

    Apr 19, 2014, 8:00 AM EDT

    Paul George, Pero Antic Paul George, Pero Antic

    You can construct a scenario where the Pacers are in trouble… except they play the Hawks.

  4. All PBT’s first round playoff previews in one place

    Apr 19, 2014, 2:15 AM EDT

    San Antonio Spurs v Miami Heat - Game 7 Getty Images

    Making your playoff preview reading convenient.

  5. Grizzlies guard Nick Calathes suspended 20 games for violating NBA’s anti-drug policy

    Apr 19, 2014, 1:54 AM EDT

    Nick Calathes, Damian Lillard AP

    Grizzlies’ guard will definitely be missed in the rotation.

  6. Craig Sager has acute leukemia

    Apr 19, 2014, 1:50 AM EDT

    Indiana Pacers v Miami Heat - Game Five Indiana Pacers v Miami Heat - Game Five

    We may not see him on the sidelines of TNT games these playoffs.

  7. NBA Playoff Preview: Brooklyn Nets vs. Toronto Raptors

    Apr 18, 2014, 11:55 PM EDT

    Brooklyn Nets v Toronto Raptors Getty Images

    This should be the East’s most competitive first round matchup.

  8. NBA Playoff Preview: Charlotte Bobcats vs. Miami Heat

    Apr 18, 2014, 10:31 PM EDT

    How quickly can Miami flip the switch?

  9. NBA Playoff Preview: Atlanta Hawks vs. Indiana Pacers

    Apr 18, 2014, 9:16 PM EDT

    Indiana Pacers v Atlanta Hawks Getty Images

    Can the Pacers regain their early-season swagger now that the playoffs are here?

  10. PBT Extra: Clippers/Warriors playoff preview

    Apr 18, 2014, 6:45 PM EDT

    Los Angeles Clippers v Golden State Warriors Getty Images

    Expect a fight by the end of Game 2.

  11. PBT Extra: Nets/Raptors playoff preview

    Apr 18, 2014, 5:50 PM EDT

    Kyle Lowry, Kevin Garnett, Deron Williams Kyle Lowry, Kevin Garnett, Deron Williams

    People shouldn’t sleep on the Raptors, particularly the Nets.

  12. NBA Playoff Preview: Dallas Mavericks vs. San Antonio Spurs

    Apr 18, 2014, 5:05 PM EDT

    Tony Parker, Samuel Dalembert Tony Parker, Samuel Dalembert

    Dallas has lost nine straight to San Antonio. Don’t expect that streak to stop now.

  13. Ties broken, NBA Draft lottery odds, second half of draft now set

    Apr 18, 2014, 4:19 PM EDT

    Grant Gilbert AP

    All the draft lottery odds are here, so Lakers fans can look and see what that little run of wins to close out the season did to their odds.

  14. PBT Podcast: NBA playoff preview edition

    Apr 18, 2014, 3:27 PM EDT

    Larry O'Brien trophy Getty Images

    We look at all 8 first round series.

  15. 2014 PBT Awards: All-NBA team

    Apr 18, 2014, 1:05 PM EDT

    Los Angeles Clippers v Houston Rockets Getty Images

    First-team frontcourt a constant, but guard spots debated

  16. Report: Steve Kerr “expects” to be offered, will take Knicks coaching job

    Apr 18, 2014, 11:44 AM EDT

    Virginia v Maryland Virginia v Maryland

    While nothing is set in stone (Mike Woodson has yet to be officially fired) you know back channel conversations have already taken place. It sounds like Kerr wants in.

Featured video

Warriors vs. Clippers playoff preview
Top 10 NBA Player Searches
  1. C. Anthony (3547)
  2. D. Williams (3502)
  3. L. James (3492)
  4. D. Wade (3449)
  5. K. Love (3428)
  1. S. Curry (3407)
  2. R. Westbrook (3124)
  3. K. Durant (2984)
  4. A. Bogut (2835)
  5. R. Rondo (2771)