Much has been said about various NBA players ranting about each other, even to the point that casting the blame on a team’s difficulties escalates to to the point where even parents join in on the fight.
I’m not talking about the little scuffles that go on day-to-day within the organizations of the small market teams, but the much larger debates within the locker rooms of the spotlight teams. I am talking about the Los Angeles Lakers.
The friction within the organization has recently fell upon co-stars Kobe Bryant and Dwight Howard.
This past week, in an exclusive interview with ESPN’s Jackie Macmullan, Kobe Bryant had some choice words for his team mate d in what has been a frustrating first half of the season.
“We don’t have time for [Howard's shoulder] to heal,” Bryant told MacMullan. “We need some urgency. [Howard] has never been in a position where someone is driving him as hard as I am, as hard as this organization is.
Of course, Kobe is not intending to damage the relationship he has with fellow co-star Howard, but he is trying to elevate his team to a new level; a championship level.
With five rings on his fingers and nearly two decades tenure with the Los Angeles Lakers, Kobe Bryant has earned the right to say how he feels with the Laker organization, and to a large extent, that is what Laker Nation expects from him.
Long time NBA reporter/journalist Skip Bayless feels that Kobe developed his uncanny ability to inspire by speaking out, saying what he thinks – encouragement through public displays of discontent, a quality that could be attributed to Phil Jackson, who mentored Bryant into absolute stardom. This of course is just a singular approach, one that has worked for some players, and destroyed careers of others.
Kobe Bryant’s discontent with the Laker organization may never be perfectly clear but he has clearly chosen sides on a few issues, one of them being the constant struggle of Laker Nation to accept the hiring of Mike D’Antoni over former Laker legend Phil Jackson.
Dwight Howard uncomfortably has sat out the three previous Laker games, all of which were won, and unfortunately the jabs keep coming on both sides. Kobe doesn’t think that his comments about Howard were taken out of context, but that he spoke with Dwight afterword to let him know his objective in saying what he said was purely to motivate.
The Lakers (24-28), lost to the Miami Heat (34-14) on Sunday night after Lebron James and Dwyane Wade put on an amazing show in the fourth quarter to close out L.A. in Miami. Kobe and Co. are just ready to move on. He he-said they-said we-said has got to stop if they want to win basketball games and become real contenders.
“It’s people who try to harbor and hang onto stuff all the time,” Bryant said of the dynamic between him and Howard. “He just has to do his job, rebound and defend. We do our jobs and our roles in what we have to do to help us win. It’s not rocket science.”
While the Lakers sort things out amongst themselves, the rest of the west if pushing forward, revving up to what should be an exciting All-Star weekend and then the second half of the season.
The larger picture will not be seen until Howard is one-hundred percent healthy, Pau Gasol comes back, and D’Antoni figures out how to use his personnel most effectively on the court, but Bryant is optimistic about the future of the team.
The man wants to win another championship, and at the end of the day, whether it’s Pau, Dwight, or Kobe taking the shot, Bryant’s goal is ring number six. No matter the cost.