It’s dire straits for The Lake Show.
The team is staring down the second half of the season as a 10th seed dealing with a host of injuries to their starters, including a tear to the plantar fascia of Pau Gasol’s right foot that will keep him out for at least four to six weeks.
For Dwight Howard, who has been dealing with a torn labrum in his shoulder that has caused him to miss the past three games, Kobe Bryant said Howard’s pain is no excuse and that he needs to play through the injury. Otherwise, the Lakers could miss the playoffs for only the sixth time in franchise history.
In an interview Wednesday with ESPNBoston.com’s Jackie MacMullan, Bryant challenged Howard to play with a sense of urgency and forget about his nagging shoulder injury because the Lakers “don’t have time” for it to heal. Bryant said it’s just “something that you have to balance out and manage” in order to continue competing. He also said Howard can’t let go of how his image is portrayed by the media and cares too much about what people think about him:
“We don’t have time for (Howard’s shoulder) to heal. We need some urgency. [D]wight worries too much about what people think. I told him, ‘You can’t worry about that. It’s holding you back.’ He says, ‘OK, OK, OK,’ but it’s always hovering around him. He just wants people to like him. He doesn’t want to let anyone down, and that gets him away from what he should be doing.”
Bryant said Howard is on a team now where it’s championship-or-bust and that this kind of pressure is “foreign” to him, a jab to Howard’s former coach, Stan Van Gundy, from their days together on the Orlando Magic. Bryant added that he’s driving Howard to win in a way that Howard never experienced before and that there are only two teams that can honestly say the season is a failure if they don’t win a championship: the Lakers and their longtime rival, the Boston Celtics.
“(Howard) has never been in a position where someone is driving him as hard as I am, as hard as this organization is. 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. When you think about it, there aren’t many organizations that look at it that way. There are only two that can really honestly say that’s what they live by — Los Angeles and Boston. We don’t have three years. We’ve got this year.”