Kobe Bryant, who last week colorfully described his team’s advancing age, and Dwight Howard, according to a New York Daily News report, had a heated exchange after a loss on New Year’s Day to the Philadelphia 76ers.
Howard had to be restrained from going after Bryant, who had mentioned and agreed with Shaquille O’Neal’s critical comments about Howard. O’Neal had rated him the third best center, Andrew Bynum and Brook Lopez. Three days later, the Lakers lost to the Los Angeles Clippers and Howard complained about the Lakers’ lack of chemistry.
“Look at the difference between our team and [the Clippers],” Howard said. “They just play together. They share the ball. Everybody’s excited when something happens.”
The Lakers fell to 15-18 with a 112-104 loss to the Denver Nuggets on Sunday night. Howard had 26 rebounds, Bryant scored 29 points. Before the game, Coach Mike D’Antoni downplayed concerns that poor chemistry could scuttle the season.
“You don’t have to love each other,” he said (via the Los Angeles Times). “I’ve been on a lot of championship teams in Europe where there’s edges and we don’t go out to dinner every night. That is not why we’re losing. We’re losing right now because we don’t have a consistent 48 minutes of good basketball.”
Ramona Shelburne of ESPN Los Angeles tweeted that two Lakers sources “adamantly shot down the reported Dwight/Kobe incident. One said, ‘it’s simply not true.'”
On Saturday Howard had told Shelburne:
“We have to play like we like each other. Even if we don’t want to be friends off the court, whatever that may be, when we step in between the lines or we step in the locker room or the gym, we have to respect each other and what we bring to the table,” Howard said. “It really starts off the court. I think you have to have that relationship and that chemistry off the court for it to really blossom on the court. It takes time to develop that. You just don’t come together and then expect to be best friends right away. It just doesn’t happen like that.”
At this point, there’s only one man who can fix this. Yep. The Zen Master.
Phil Jackson is engaged. But isn’t coaching the Lakers.