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. Video: Tyler Johnson hits Summer League game-winner for Heat with .4 on clock

    Jul 6, 2015, 12:28 AM EDT

    Brooklyn Nets v Miami Heat Brooklyn Nets v Miami Heat

    Whether regular season or Summer League, we love us some buzzer beaters.

  2. Report: Lakers near deal to sign Brandon Bass, may trade Nick Young

    Jul 5, 2015, 8:59 PM EDT

    Brandon Bass, Paul Pierce, Shaun Livingston AP

    The Lakers will need to move Young to clear the cap space for their other moves.

  3. Report: Cleveland Cavaliers considering trade for Joe Johnson

    Jul 5, 2015, 6:00 PM EDT

    New York Knicks v Brooklyn Nets

    Dan Gilbert is not afraid to write checks.

  4. LeBron James stays on sidelines while Cavaliers, Tristan Thompson talks stall out

    Jul 5, 2015, 12:30 PM EDT

    lebronthompson Getty Images

    LeBron is going to win, Tristan Thompson is going to get his money.

  5. Report: Tobias Harris turned down max contract offer from Kings

    Jul 5, 2015, 11:00 AM EDT

    Brooklyn Nets v Orlando Magic Getty Images

    Another guy who took less money to avoid playing in Sacramento.

  6. Report: JaVale McGee ‘a serious consideration’ for Clippers

    Jul 5, 2015, 9:30 AM EDT

    Indiana Pacers v Philadelphia 76ers Getty Images

    L.A. is all kinds of desperate now that DeAndre Jordan has bolted for the Mavericks.

  7. LaMarcus Aldridge thanks Portland fans in letter

    Jul 5, 2015, 8:00 AM EDT

    LaMarcus Aldridge LaMarcus Aldridge

    How will Blazers fans react when Aldridge returns?

  8. Jordan McRae shatters backboard at Sixers practice

    Jul 4, 2015, 11:00 PM EDT

    Delaware 87ers v Oklahoma City Blue Getty Images

    McRae was the 58th overall pick in the 2014 draft, and is a member of Philadelphia’s Summer League squad.

  9. Report: Jeremey Lin considering signing with Dallas Mavericks

    Jul 4, 2015, 8:00 PM EDT

    Phoenix Suns v Los Angeles Lakers Phoenix Suns v Los Angeles Lakers

    He would have to take a paycut, but Dallas needs help at the point.

  10. Spurs reset franchise for post Tim Duncan life in one impressive week

    Jul 4, 2015, 6:30 PM EDT

    150705_LaMarcusAldridge Getty Images

    The Spurs are going to just keep going on, being the San Antonio Spurs

Top 10 NBA Player Searches
  1. L. Aldridge (5998)
  2. D. Wade (3787)
  3. W. Matthews (3681)
  4. D. Jordan (3656)
  5. R. Rondo (3200)
  1. T. Harris (2995)
  2. K. Bryant (2958)
  3. R. Lopez (2957)
  4. L. James (2841)
  5. G. Monroe (2808)