Kobe Bryant once again has urged Dwight Howard to play through some pain while claiming that the Los Angeles Lakers center "worries too much" about media and fan criticism.
Howard has missed the past three games because of a torn labrum in his shoulder, aggravating an injury he initially suffered earlier this season.
Despite winning the three games Howard has missed, the Lakers (23-26) are 10th in the Western Conference playoff race. They also will be without star forward Pau Gasol, who could be sidelined four-to-six weeks with a tear in the plantar fascia of his right foot, an MRI revealed Wednesday.
"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."
The interview with MacMullan came one day after Bryant publicly challenged Howard, stating that playing through an injury is "something that you have to balance out and manage."
Bryant also asserted that Howard is preoccupied with how he is perceived by fans and media.
"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."
Bryant also speculated that Howard, in his first season with Los Angeles, may not be accustomed to the Lakers' standards.
"(Howard) has never been in a position where someone is driving him as hard as I am, as hard as this organization is," Bryant told MacMullan. "It's win a championship, or everything is a complete failure. That's just how (the Lakers) do it. And that's foreign to him.
"When you think about it, there aren't many organizations that look at it that way. There are only two that can really honestly say that's what they live by -- Los Angeles and Boston."
Howard preached patience in a recent interview with ESPN's Stephen A. Smith, pointing to the fact that Bryant and Shaquille O'Neal needed three years before winning a championship with the Lakers.
But the 34-year-old Bryant, who is averaging 27.6 points per game in his 17th NBA season, is approaching this season with more desperation.
"We don't have three years," Kobe said. "We've got this year."
Howard is listed as day to day, and his status is uncertain for Thursday's game against the Boston Celtics.
The Lakers are hopeful Gasol's injury will prompt Howard to return "sooner than later," a team source told ESPNLosAngeles.com.
Lots of back and forth going on
- Dwight wont play because he wants to make sure shoulder is 100%
- Kobe says hes played with a torn labrum before and Dwight can play on it
- Dwight says Kobe is a guard but when Dwight is in the paint you got a couple of goons hanging on you and fouling you at every chance. Says it took Shaq 3 years in LA to win a ring
- Kobe says we need more urgency, stop worrying what people think and we dont got 3 years to wait for you to get there LOL
I honestly think Dwight might get scared and run away to Houston or Atlanta in the offseason, hes not handling this well at all. Yes the dude might just leave $30 mil on the table to get peace of mind and take pressure off him. The injuries have limited him but hes not making adjustments either to deal with the injuries...how do you think Kobe and Nash have lasted this long, Dwight?? You gotta change it up. Get stronger fundamentally. Put your hard hats on. All this sacrifice and grinding is needed to win a ring, thats what it takes
Kobe publicly to the media, in the last 3 years has coddled the teammates and had their back even if theyre wrong. He usually speaks his mind and points out the truth when the team has reached point of crisis (Ex: After game 6 in Denver saying glad MWP is back since hes the only one who he can count on). Lets see how Dwight responds.
Edited by MDI, February 07, 2013 - 12:03 AM.