The no ring circus in Los Angeles isn’t done embarrassing itself just yet. After the Lakers fell to the Denver Nuggets on Sunday night, their fourth loss in five games, an interesting report surfaced.
As it turns out, Kobe Bryant and Dwight Howard supposedly had a confrontation in the locker room following their most recent loss to the Philadelphia 76ers. How bad was it? Very bad, apparently.
According to the New York Daily News, “Bryant went for a low blow – referencing and agreeing with Shaquille O’Neal’s criticisms of Howard being soft.” Howard, in turn, responded by thoughtfully taking in his teammate’s critique and promising to better himself. No, just kidding. He did this instead: “Howard was restrained from going at his teammate… and there have been rumblings from the center’s camp that he’s been unhappy with Bryant since earlier in the season.”
Earlier in the weekend, Ramona Shelburne tweeted out this:
I asked Dwight Howard if the Lakers liked each other. He said, "We have play like we like each other."— Ramona Shelburne (@ramonashelburne) January 5, 2013
Best quote of the day came from Dwight: "You can't look at it as the alpha male. It's basketball. We're not a pack of wolves."— Ramona Shelburne (@ramonashelburne) January 6, 2013
Dwight said: "That's not being an alpha male. If you're an alpha male, you don't have to always show that you're the alpha male."— Ramona Shelburne (@ramonashelburne) January 6, 2013
Dwight: "If you're an alpha male, you don't have to always show that you're the alpha male. Just be who you are."— Ramona Shelburne (@ramonashelburne) January 6, 2013
D'Antoni on Lakers struggles with pick-and-roll: "The relationship between Steve and Dwight has got to get a lot better."— Ramona Shelburne (@ramonashelburne) January 5, 2013
The Lakers are legitimately disintegrating right before our very eyes. If things continue to go down this path, we could end up witnessing the biggest debacle in basketball history. This isn’t anything even remotely like the 2004 failure – that team at least made it to the NBA Finals. Furthermore, that team featured just one superstar who was at the top of his game, one really solid player in Shaquille O’Neal, and two future Hall of Famers near the end of their careers. And they almost won the championship.
This bunch of losers won’t even make the playoffs.
There is enough blame to go around, but let’s start with the head coach. Mike D’Antoni is awful. A lot of people predicted he would be awful, but somehow he has managed to exceed expectations. The Lakers are the sixth ranked team in the league when it comes to offensive efficiency; they were in the top 10 with Mike Brown, too. They’re 19th in defensive efficiency, though; they were in the top 10 with Brown in that department as well.
Now, the decision to get rid of Brown was fine – the players had clearly tuned him out. But it's also obvious that D’Antoni’s formula isn’t working. Worse yet, his reluctance as it pertains to making any sort of defensive modifications is bewildering. When you’re 26th in the league in points allowed, how do you not acknowledge that maybe you need to work on that end of the floor?
As far as Kobe and Dwight are concerned – both are a joke. At 34 years old, it's amazing that the former does not have a better understanding of how to deal with perpetually coddled, coach-killing babies. Kobe was one for the better part of his career, so he should know how these narcissists think. Would it really kill him to relinquish some control and boost Dwight’s ego a bit? The criticism works both ways, though. All Dwight has to do to take control away from Kobe is to outplay him. That’s it. He has the physical capabilities to do so. If he were to dominate the floor like he used to in Orlando, on both ends, he would be the Lakers’ biggest star. Kobe can say whatever wants to say, act however he wants to act – production speaks louder than words.
Finally, Pau Gasol deserves some blame, too. Not for having a bad year. Not for consistently underperforming all season long. Rather, for allowing his team to turn him into the scapegoat for all of their woes. He is one of the most talented players on the planet – his problems thus far are not entirely his fault. More importantly, his problems are not why the Lakers have been such a pathetic embarrassment to date. It would be fantastic if he stood up and said: “Hey morons, I brought you two titles. I played for you loyally after you traded me to the Houston Rockets. It’s not my fault your idiot coaches don’t understand how to use me effectively. It’s not my fault management doesn’t understand how vital Lamar Odom was to making the Twin Tower approach work. I AM NOT THE PROBLEM.”
This team sucks. It probably won't make the playoffs. It saps every tiny bit of enthusiasm that exists from every single Lakers fan who watches the games.
Embarrassing. That's the only way to describe this whole ordeal.
When do the Dodgers start playing?
(Kudos Daily News)