Posted February 07, 2013

‘Dwightmare’ coming back to haunt Dwight Howard in Los Angeles

Ben Golliver, Dwight Howard, Kobe Bryant, Los Angeles Lakers
Dwight Howard, left, drew questions about his injured shoulder from teammate Kobe Bryant. (Noah Graham/Getty Images)

Dwight Howard (left) drew questions about his injured shoulder from teammate Kobe Bryant. (Noah Graham/Getty Images)

By Ben Golliver

The Lakers need all hands on deck for their sprint toward the playoffs. But an ailing shoulder has sidelined Dwight Howard for the last week, apparently testing the patience of Kobe Bryant.

The All-Star guard seemed to suggest in an ESPNBoston.com interview on Wednesday that the time is now for Howard to return.

“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.”

“[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.”

The Los Angeles Times reported Thursday that Howard dismissed the notion that he lacked urgency to return and preached the virtues of the bigger picture.

“He’s not a doctor. I’m not a doctor. So that’s his opinion,” Howard said. “I mean, I want to play. But at the same time, this is my career, this is my future, this is my life. I can’t leave that up to anybody else because nobody else is going to take care of me.

“If people are [ticked] off that I don’t play, that I do play, whatever it may be, 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 to have another summer where I’m rehabbing and, you know, trying to get healthy again. I want to come back and have another great year.”

The Times further reported that Bryant clarified Thursday that he was not suggesting that Howard needed to return immediately from his injury.

“Not even a little bit,” Bryant said in a quiet moment after the team’s morning shoot-around, adding that he was surprised at the tone of the ESPN story. “In this case, it’s not legitimate. I was shocked.”

Howard, 27, suffered a torn labrum in his right shoulder in January. He was initially listed as out indefinitely, and he missed three games before coming back on Jan. 13. He reaggravated the injury during a Jan. 30 game against the Suns and underwent platelet rich plasma (PRP) treatment in an attempt to help the healing process. He sat out the Lakers’ last three games before going through shootaround on Thursday. He’s listed as a game-time decision for Thursday night’s game in Boston.

The “urgency” factor increased for the Lakers this week when Pau Gasol was lost to a foot injury that is expected to sideline him for at least one month. Reserve forward Jordan Hill sustained a season-ending hip injury in January, too, leaving Howard, forwards Earl Clark and Antawn Jamison and rookie center Robert Sacre as the team’s only “big men.”

This is a classic “chickens coming home to roost” scenario for Howard, whose disastrous handling of his free agency and eventual exit from Orlando has found another way to catch up with him here. One of the NBA’s most physically imposing and durable players, Howard – who missed just seven games total over his first seven seasons – has played through pain after undergoing back surgery last season, saying recently that his legs even “tingle” at times. His reputation, until the last two seasons, was as a physical beast you could count on putting up 20 points and 10 rebounds every night.

Had he not waffled, deceived and refused to commit to a franchise long term, the notion that he wasn’t returning from injury in a proper timeline wouldn’t be a legitimate topic of discussion for Bryant (assuming he did) or anybody else. His track record would speak for itself and there would be no reason to doubt him. Calling out a person (or teammate) for not returning from an injury quickly enough amounts to a character attack in professional sports; not only are you saying that the person is a wimp but that he’s also letting down the rest of his team. Aiming that type of argument at Howard would sound ludicrous going solely off of his play and availability from 2004-2010. But his off-court antics now get conflated with anything that goes wrong on the court or in the training room.

Howard has further painted himself into a corner by refusing to discuss his future with the Lakers, saying only that he’s committed to trying to win a championship this season. Combine that hesitation with his statements that he doesn’t want to be rehabilitating this summer and that it’s “my career,” and the door is open wide for critics to suggest he’s putting himself above the team. The emphasis should be on the word “career” — because avoiding long-term damage or an extended rehabilitation is always the top priority — but the only word people hear in that sentence is “my” because of the hangover from the “Dwightmare.” That saga included a trade request; his exercising his contract option for 2012-13 instead of signing a long-term deal; a ludicrous press conference in which he expressed his “loyalty” to the Magic; an awkward encounter with former coach Stan Van Gundy; the dismissals of Van Gundy and former GM Otis Smith; a blockbuster trade to the Lakers; and another full season of impending free agency limbo.

Is it totally fair or accurate to accuse Howard of putting his own interests in front of those of the Lakers when it comes to his health? Not really, but it’s a line of criticism that derives directly from his bumbling flakiness over the last few years. Until he puts down roots by signing a long-term contract, no one will truly trust him, not even when it comes to the physical pain that he’s feeling, a topic in which he should be unquestionably regarded as the world’s leading expert. A man nicknamed “Superman” shouldn’t have to answer questions about his toughness, and he wouldn’t if he had stayed out of his own way by making up his mind.

16 comments
P0is0nedKoolA1
P0is0nedKoolA1

The lot of you are Skip Bayless, Stephen A Smith, First Take fans, huh? 

 

The same thing those blowhards say/write is being repeated here. 

Is the hack term "clutch gene" gonna be used next?

 

Look, Dwight Howard is a franchise player. He's ALL the team had for years in Orlando & he helped them reach the Finals with a pathetic roster!!! It's interesting to me how quickly people forget.

 

Sure the "Dwightmare" thing in Orlando has created a bad stench that will always be with Dwight , till he wins a title ala Lebron, but let us not forget that this guy is one of the best players in the NBA. 

 

Dwight has missed ONLY SEVEN GAMES in his whole career!! Does anyone believe that Dwight NEVER PLAYED THROUGH AN INJURY in all that time? That Dwight was pain-free? 

 

Every NBA player will tell you from the top player to the 12th man on the bench, they are all in discomfort. From the practices to the games to the travelings, its all adds up to pain. 

 

Kobe is an a s s who always berates his team-mates in a public way & is NOT a leader. Thus only 2 titles since Shaq left. 

 

I hope Dwight goes to a team no one anticipated and crushes the league once again. 

(the Hawks??)

 

You  clueless ingrates 

Stop listening to "First Take"

M as in Mancy
M as in Mancy

This is a CHAMPIONSHIP LEVEL TEAM with a once in a lifetime mix of talent and experience. How many other NBA veterans who are the pro's pro like Gerald Wallace, Al Jefferson, Paul Millsap, Antawn Jamison (pre-Lakers) who haven't had this opportunity would do anything and everything to make it count?

 

Howard's Orlando teams didn't have talent and other than a small window, were never championship level. He should be the first to appreciate and maximize this opportunity because this is a 1 year team. 2 at max.

eddiej
eddiej

Kobe said the right thing to the wrong ppl,but you have to admit Howard doesn't seem to be able to play through any type of pain.He's pulling an Orlando again for sympathy he didn't earn.Someone will give him his max.$$,then regret it.

lkrfan
lkrfan

This is probably the biggest  "mess" in NBA history.  It seems like there is new drama added every day to the Laker saga.  Kobe knows that they are going to stick a microphone in his face whenever possible.  You don't always have to say what you think and refusing to do so doesn't  take away any testosterone.  There are enough player deficiencies going on with this team and contention and division between the top superstars only adds to the  sea of problems.  If Kobe and Dwight can't work out their differences in the locker room, it sure isn't going to get done in the media; in fact,  it only gets worse.  If I want to see reality tv, I'll tune in on the Kardashians or Basketball Wives, but I want to see a professional basketball team play ball as they are capable of doing and that has not happened.   Perhaps Dwight's coming to the Lakers was not a good thing; perhaps no "star" can exist on the court with Kobe; perhaps if Laker fans would not buy any tickets to any Laker games, and season ticket holders refuse to attend (I know.  this is a dream, but I might as well dream) any games, the Laker management and Laker players would be forced to get their act  together.  My moniker says "lrkrfan", but maybe I should change it to "fed up lkrfan".

Storvo
Storvo

How can be harmony among the team, if Kobe is always taking trash about his teammates? I wonder how Lakers can coexist.... and be a winning team

jsteppling
jsteppling

the article is pretty much right. Howard handled it all badly...........and this level of entitlement was seen in LeBron and others as well. Its the culture of entitlement in pro sports. Howard is, additionally, not the shapest pencil in the cup..........so he rarely sounds sincere or even coherent when giving interviews. Personally i dont know why teams want him at this point, injury problems, loser, locker room cancer and a primma donna ......great.......lets give him a fortune to quit for our team, too.

DirtyPantiesLover1
DirtyPantiesLover1

as long as you make the most money, that's all that counts. never be loyal to your employer, only your pocketbook. the only friend you have is named benjamin with his age of 100 written next to him and he never says no to you.

skchai1
skchai1

Given that we don't know how much of a long-term offer Orlando made to him, it seems weird to criticize him for not signing a long-term contract with them.   Exercising his one-year option was a no-win move money-wise - he could have refused it, hit the free-agent market, and hit the unrestricted free-agent market to sign with whomever he wanted.  Only plausibility explanation was that he was trying to temporarily quiet the critics who saw his failure to sign the extension as lack of commitment.  But unless a player really stays put at any cost or sacrifice (i.e. stay until your franchise decides to get rid of you) this kind of delaying more simply makes the fans more angry when a player finally leaves.  Better to take the hate right away.   I think that's what Kobe meant when he criticized Dwight for "trying too much to be liked". 

usameos6
usameos6

Didn't Kobe miss time in 2003/2004 for coming back too early and injuring his surgically repaired shoulder?

JamesJoyce
JamesJoyce

Papi Dude - I have no idea what you are trying to say.

Duker
Duker

What a shocker....I was wondering when Kobe would start throwing people under the bus when Gasol went down the other day.  That was quick....blame another guy who's injured.  

Soughtful
Soughtful

Well said, Mr. Howard. Be done with it, and make decisions based on what you feel is right for you!

 

Papi Del Negro..... Dont ask
Papi Del Negro..... Dont ask

Ha ha ha.. Truer words have never been spoken. Kobe has pulled Dwight's b$&ch card and of course as has become true to his nature, he flakes around not man enough to speak his mind. That's all anybody wants clown. Whether it detracts people from liking you or not just be honest. Remember the truth shall set you free...

Sam5
Sam5

 @M as in Mancy How is this a championship level team?  They've been sub-.500 the ENTIRE season.  They have no bench.  Their best players are either over the hill or injured (or both).  This team has been bad from the start.  They might not even be a playoff team.  

iv3rson003
iv3rson003

@skchai1 Dwight opted out of his ETO last season cause Orlando told him they were going to trade him the next day (probably to the Rockets, but not to the Nets which is where he wanted to go) if he didn't sign a long-term extension with the Magic. By opting out of his ETO, Dwight was under contract for an extra season which would've been fine if he truly was gonna stay with the Magic but soon after everything fell apart and that's where opting out of his ETO became counter-productive. So now he was under contract for another year but it was gonna be with whatever team the Magic traded him to and that's when Dwight lost all control of his destiny... As for the Kobe situation in the article, I think the real reason that Kobe is calling him out is because he thinks Dwight is embellishing his injuries cause deep down he just doesn't want to be in LA. Dwight has a number of reason why he wouldn't want to play this season and most of them revolve around his downspiraling image. Dwight has gone from being the #2 player in the league with the Magic to someone who is regarded as a coach-killer, a chemistry-killer, a me-first-attitude, a crybaby, weak-minded and now we can add injury-prone to that list... Kobe is simply calling him out for what Dwight is doing and I don't blame him one bit cause it's disgusting how many material things that Dwight is putting before basketball.

M as in Mancy
M as in Mancy

 @Sam5

Ummmm...I'm not a Lakers fan at all, but I would refer you to almost all sports publications before November. Easy to knock something with the benefit of hindsight.