BOSTON — The criticism seemed to contain a figurative sting as sharp as the pain Dwight Howard’s felt in the aggravated torn labrum of his right shoulder.
“We don’t have time for [Howard’s shoulder] to heal,” Bryant said in an ESPN.com report. “We need some urgency.”
Bryant didn’t back down from the statements he made to respected basketball writer Jackie MacMullan. Yet, the Black Mamba maintains he wasn’t trying to hiss.
“If I had a message in mind,” Bryant said. “I’d make it pretty black and white.”
And what Bryant has said in recent days has remained pretty clear. Of course, Bryant has wanted Howard to play leading up to the Lakers’ 116-95 loss Thursday to the Boston Celtics at TD Garden. But that hope came on qualified statements. If he’s considered healthy enough to play through the pain, Howard should do so. If the injury could remain season-threatening, Howard should sit out.
Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni went out of his way to remind reporters the training staff has medically cleared Howard ever since aggravating his shoulder last week. D’Antoni also described Howard’s nine points, seven rebounds and four turnovers in his first appearance since missing the past three games as “not good.” Bryant also conceded Howard’s “rustiness.”
But as far as questioning Howard’s toughness?
Bryant maintains says he never has or suggested such a thing.
“I think the statements I made yesterday were overblown to be honest with you,” Bryant said. “I didn’t say anything that was offensive. It was shocking to me in terms of how everybody reacted to it.”
Howard initially reacted to it poorly.
“That’s his opinion, that’s it,” Howard said. “He’s not a doctor, I’m not a doctor. That’s his opinion.”
That’s why Howard didn’t feel inclined even to clear the air with Bryant.
“Have I talked to Kobe? Why do I have to explain it to Kobe?” Howard said. “Is he a doctor? So I should explain that to all my teammates then, right? That’s his opinion.”
But in reality, it wasn’t Bryant’s opinion.
Follow L.A. Daily News Lakers beat writer Mark Medina on Twitter. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org