Bryant—a master of trash talk and manipulation—apparently launched the first salvo against Howard’s fragile psyche. He informed the center that he agreed with Shaquille O’Neal’s offseason statements about how the big man isn’t tough enough.
Dwight tried to prove Kobe wrong physically, but wound up being restrained by his teammates.
Since that alleged incident, we’ve been hearing plenty of rumbling about chemistry coming out of the Lakers locker room.
On Saturday, Howard opined to Ramona Shelburne of ESPN Los Angeles:
We have to play like we like each other. Even if we don't want to be friends off the court, whatever that may be, when we step in between the lines or we step in the locker room or the gym, we have to respect each other and what we bring to the table.
He was speaking to an incident where Jordan Hill was left writhing in pain on the floor without teammate help during Friday’s 107-102 loss to the in-town rival Clippers, but it’s easy to see there are plenty more chemistry problems in L.A. than just failing to check in on a role player.
Howard continued discussing the many ways he takes on a dominant alpha role within the Lakers hierarchy.
"If you're an alpha male, you don't have to always show that you're the alpha male," he said. "Just be who you are. You come in the room, people know you're there... My presence is felt every day, and I don't have to come here and growl and snarl at people. I don't have to do all that."
Bryant had some interesting insight into how his last relationship with another alpha worked (hint: it’s Shaq), but he’s not so sure it could happen again.
Here’s what Bryant said, as per Shelburne:
That type of duo, you're not going to find another duo like that ever. There were other duos that were better than us, (Scottie) Pippen and (Michael) Jordan. But you'll never find a duo with two dominant personalities like myself and Shaquille. That was kind of a once-in-a-lifetime thing.
If D12 and the Black Mamba are truly dragging their personal problems through the media, the situation in L.A. could be worth more than we originally thought.
Should the two continue to go at it, there’s reportedly a chance (as per Bondy) that team brass decides enough is enough and attempts to move Howard before the Feb. 21 trade deadline.
If Howard becomes available then the Brooklyn Nets would likely step in to offer a package revolving around Brook Lopez, the franchise big who was the centerpiece of most Dwight-to-Brooklyn talks this past summer.
However, some respected beat writers around Los Angeles are reporting that this is simply not a true story and that things are fine between the big man and future Hall of Fame guard.
Jarrod N. Rudolph of RealGM’s sources have indicated the spat between Howard and Bryant was nothing more than talk, and Ramona Shelburne tweeted that one of her insiders is adamantly denying the report:
Two Lakers sources have adamantly shot down the reported Dwight/Kobe incident. One said, "it's simply not true."— Ramona Shelburne (@ramonashelburne) January 7, 2013
It’ll be interesting to see if anything further comes from this report, and we’ll keep you updated right here on B/R with the latest news, rumors, information, updates and more concerning this alleged Bryant-Howard rift.