AUBURN HILLS, Mich. –As he searches for answers on how to strengthen his aggravated labrum in his right shoulder, Dwight Howard could begin by consulting a prominent teammate who’s gone through similar issues.
He’s nursed shoulder injuries in past seasons and has remarked how he’s played despite the persisting pain.
“I’m probably just crazy,” Bryant said following the Lakers’ 98-97 win Sunday over the Detroit Pistons. “There’s certain players that don’t mind and play through all kinds of [stuff]. I’m one of those players.”
Of course he is. That remains one of the distinguishable traits surrounding Bryant’s game.
But viewing Bryant as a case study in hopes that Howard can play Tuesday against the Brooklyn Nets isn’t so simple.
“Me and Kobe play two different positions,” Howard pointed out. “With the position that I play, I use a lot of force coming up, whether that’s going up for a dunk or a shot.”
Nonetheless, Bryant provided specific parameters to determine whether Howard can play through this injury.
“That’s an evaluation he’s going to have to make with the training staff,” Bryant said. “If it’s an injury like a stinger but it won’t get worse, play through it. If the pain is going to be there for a day or two, play through it. If it’s going to threaten your career or threaten your season, chill out. That’s a decision he has to make.”
Bryant would obviously like Howard to make that decision soon. After all, the Lakers (22-26) are scrapping their way out of the Western Conference basement.
“I’m worried about it because we need to be having everyone out there and playing with some kind of rhythm,” Bryant said. “This is we where we start establishing an identity. We’re doing that. Now we have a little setback.”
It remains to be seen to what degree Howard’s injury fulfills that description.
Howard has already ruled out surgery this season because the recovery process would take at least six months. He had a non-invasive platelet-rich plasma (PRP) injection Saturday, though it may take seven to 10 days before he feels any affects if it at all. Howard’s also routinely iced his shoulder and received electronic stimulation. He also suggested vaguely he will seek other options.
“There’s certain treatments I can do and certain things I can try to work on to get it stronger,” Howard said. “We have the best training staff here in the NBA. I’ll continue to work with them on a daily basis.”
Regardless, it’s not going to change an unpleasant reality whenever he returns to the court.
“He’s going to get hit all the time,” Bryant said. “He has broad shoulders.”
So how does Howard find the right balance between making the tactical adjustments without inhibiting any of his aggressiveness?
“I’m not really sure,” Bryant said. “When you get hit on those things, your arm is going to go dead. That’s how it is when you deal with shoulder injuries. It’s going to be like that for a while.”
Thankfully for Howard, he has a trusted teammate willing to lend perspective and advice.
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