Dwight Howard tells Kobe Bryant, critics to back off about his shoulder injury
Howard re-aggravated his shoulder injury last week and has missed the team’s past three games. He said after the Lakers’ win at Brooklyn Tuesday that he is “not in any rush” to return until his injury heals. Bryant wants to see some urgency and suggested that Howard play through the pain.
“He’s probably worried about the damage in his shoulder,” Bryant said, via the Los Angeles Daily News. “I don’t think he’s had to play through injuries his entire career. He’s been relatively healthy. It’s a new experience for him.”
Bryant told reporters it’s not a matter of toughness.
“No. It’s an experience thing,” Bryant said. “I’ve dealt with injuries. Not injuries that were debilitating, but injuries that you have to play through them and manage the pain.
“When you go through those things, you learn your body and know what you can push through and can’t push through. Dwight’s never been hurt.”
Not only did Bryant suggest that Howard’s never been hurt, but he also said the team didn’t have time for patience with Dwight.
“We don’t have time for [Howard's shoulder] to heal,” Bryant told ESPN Boston’s Jackie MacMullan. “We need some urgency.”
Howard disagrees, saying that he tried playing through a back injury last season which only made things worse. He ended up needing surgery from which he still hasn’t fully recovered. He also clearly did not like Kobe trying to tell him what to do.
“I want to play,” Howard told reporters Thursday. “Why wouldn’t I want to play? At the same time, this is my career, my future and this is my life. I can’t leave that up to anybody else. There’s nobody else that will take care of me. If people are pissed off that I don’t play or if I do play, so what? This is my career. If I go down, then what? Everybody’s life is going to go on. I don’t want to have another summer where I’m rehabbing and trying to get healthy again. I want to come back and have another great year.”
Bryant seemed to back off on Thursday.
“There’s an urgency to be out there,” Bryant said, “but not at the cost of making his shoulder worse.”
Howard also said that neither he nor Bryant are doctors, therefore Kobe is only sharing personal opinion.
The Lakers are 23-26 and at Boston Thursday. They have won six of seven games, but with Pau Gasol out six weeks with a partially-torn plantar fascia, they need some help in the middle. Howard knows that, but he understands that returning from injury earlier than expected last time resulted in him re-injuring the shoulder. It can’t be an easy situation for him.