Here’s all the evidence you need that Kobe Bryant and Dwight Howard aren’t on the same page. The two Lakers’ stars can’t even agree if their time in Houston for All-Star weekend could improve their on and off-court chemistry.
“I don’t know how much more we need to strengthen it really,” Bryant said following the Lakers’ 125-101 loss Thursday to the Clippers at Staples Center.
Those aren’t the sentiments Bryant expressed last year. He credited the 2012 All-Star weekend in Orlando as a huge turning point in his relationship with Andrew Bynum since they marked the two lone Lakers playing in the game. Bryant had dinner with Bynum and found new appreciation for the center’s newfound hunger in expanding his game.
Howard sounded hopeful such a getaway could do the same thing.
“Hopefully. We’ll see how it goes,” Howard said. “It has to get better. We have to continue to work on it.”
Where can it get better?
Said Howard: “It’s personal.”
Howard refused to discuss the issue further, but there’s plenty of incidents that could make Howard feel that way.
Bryant and Howard have had philosophical differences on each other’s roles. Howard felt initial frustration for his diminished offensive role compared to his eight seasons with the Orlando Magic. Bryant had expressed irritation over Howard’s inconsistency on defense and his jovial personality in the locker room.
The issues were serious enough for Bryant to confront Howard about it in an air-it-out meeting three weeks ago in Memphis. The dynamic improved until Howard aggravated his torn labrum in his right shoulder that sidelined him two weeks ago for two games.
Bryant then sparked attention for comments attributed to him in an ESPN.com report in which he said, “We don’t have time for (Howard’s shoulder) to heal. We need some urgency.”
Bryant maintains the public over-reacted to his quotes. He intended for the message to read that the team, including Howard, need to have a sense of urgency and can’t just feel everything will be solved if his shoulder heals. Nonetheless, Howard testily reacted to the quotes, reminding reporters that “Kobe’s not a doctor.” Howard’s dad then told the Atlanta Journal Constitution his son, Bryant and D’Antoni should have a sit-down meeting, an idea all parties rejected.
Since then, both Bryant and Howard have talked little about the incidents. That’s why it would’ve been interesting to see how the two interacted Thursday night when riding in a private jet to Houston. Bryant strongly suggested he had no interest in using All-Star weekend to strengthen a personal relationship with Howard.
Besides, the two will have overlapping schedules. Bryant plans to work out with the Lakers’ training staff and has various marketing appearances with Nike. Howard has a similar itinerary with the tram’s trainers and appearances with Adidas.
“I think it’s where it should be,” Bryant said. “The communication that I have with him is about execution and about what he needs to do on the court. That’s where it’s going to stay.”
Follow L.A. Daily News Lakers beat writer Mark Medina on Twitter. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org