Dwight Howard vs. Kobe Bryant and 12 steps to full-on anarchy

via @KobeBryant

Dwight Howard had some harsh words for Kobe Bryant Thursday, Steve Nash had some passive aggressive words of his own, and the Lakers season just keeps getting better.

1. On January 7th, we saw a report that Dwight Howard and Kobe Bryant almost came to blows in the locker room after a loss to the Sixers. The rumors were denied the next day and Kobe joked about it on Twitter with the picture above and we all laughed it off. False alarm.

2. Then a a few weeks later, as the L.A. Times reported, "Guys went at each other a little bit" in a Lakers team meeting. But when Kobe went after Dwight directly, "[Dwight] didn't go back at Kobe." That led to a brief truce, and Dwight promising the next day to "bring it" for the rest of the year.

3. "I have to do more for this team," Howard told the media. "There are a lot of responsibilities on my shoulders. I have to step up and take it. It has to be me. It has to start with me. I'm a guy that has to dominate for us to win. We're not going to win unless I dominate."

4. That night he scored 2 points on 0-4 shooting in an L.A. loss, and left the game with an injury after playing only 14 minutes leading some on Twitter to speculate:

5. After a brief Lakers winning streak where Kobe was passing more and Dwight looked more valuable than ever, the winning ended with Dwight getting hurt (again) in Phoenix and the Lakers getting outscored 19-8 without him down the stretch.

6. On Tuesday the team announced Pau Gasol will miss six weeks with a torn tendon in his foot. And now it gets fun. With Pau out and Dwight nursing a sore shoulder, Kobe wants Superman back on the court, and he's calling him out in public.

7. First, on Tuesday:

"He's probably worried about the damage in his shoulder. I don't think he's ever had to play through injuries in his career. I think it's a new experience for him. ... Dwight has never been hurt. The [back injury last season] was debilitating and he couldn't play. When you have an injury that hurts you but you can play through it that's something you have to balance out and manage and he's never really had to do that."

8. Then to ESPN's Jackie McMullan on Wednesday:

"We don't have time for (Howard's shoulder) to heal. We need some urgency. Dwight 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.

[...]

"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."

9. After months of simmering tensions we're finally descending into full-on chaos.

10. You can read the entire transcript of the phenomenally awkward exchange with reporters over here. And then Dwight elaborates here, via McMenamin:

"I mean, why wouldn't I want to play? But, at the same time, this is my career, this is my future, this is my life. I can't leave that up to anybody else because nobody else is going to take care of me. So, if people are pissed off that I don't play or if I do play, whatever it may be, so what? This is my career. If I go down, then what? Everybody's life is going to go on. I don't want to have another summer where I'm rehabbing and trying to get healthy again. I want to come back and have another great year. That's what I want to do."

11. He makes some fair points there, and as outsiders we're all sort of guessing. What do his teammates think about all this? Metta World Peace/Ron Artest isn't judging.

Metta is Dennis Haysbert in Major League 2, which is actually the perfect supporting character to be thrown into all this. He's the greatest. But Steve Nash?

Translated by the internet:

ISN'T IT BEAUTIFUL?

12. Now here we are, with the Lakers getting ready to play the Celtics on national TV while two of the most respected superstars in NBA history bully the third superstar in public, and the third superstar snaps back at any beat reporters who dare ask him about it. Things haven't gone totally nuclear just yet, but there's plenty of time. Plus, let's be honest: If the Lakers aren't going to contend for a title this year, they might as well start openly hating each other and taking potshots at Dwight in the media, right?

WHOOPS, too late.


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