Lakers’ Kobe Bryant downplays on-court scuffle with Dwight Howard

ATLANTA — The video emerged for all to see.

Kobe Bryant and Dwight Howard tangled in a skirmish a month ago. It first started with Howard swinging his elbows toward Bryant’s jaw as he defended him. It continued with the two jawing back and forth, including Bryant calling Howard “soft.” More video went viral that showed Bryant addressing Howard with words not suitable for print, suggesting the strain of their relationship as former teammates two seasons ago still stands.

Meanwhile, Oklahoma City’s Kevin Durant addressed Howard in a recent game with a similar offending slur.

“I don’t feel that way and I don’t think Kevin does either,” Bryant said Wednesday. “In moments of confrontation during a game you’ll say things during the heat of the moment. I know Dwight, I’m sure Kevin does. We don’t feel that way about him. It’s like when you get in an argument with somebody you’ll say things out of frustration or anger that you really don’t mean.”

Is Bryant aware of that when it is happening in real time?

“In the moment? No,” Bryant said. “In hindsight? Yes, especially now with social media. Everybody has a camera. You try to be conscious as possible in the fact that kids are watching.”

No such incidents happened during the Lakers’ 98-92 victory Wednesday over the Houston Rockets at Staples Center. That’s because officials announced that Howard would miss the game because of a strained right knee moments before tipoff. Howard also did not watch the game from the bench.

The injury was a surprise considering Howard attended the team’s morning shootaround. There, a Rockets official promptly cut off a reporter’s question about Howard being investigated for child abuse.


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