As reported by Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News, the two superstars nearly came to blows recently:
A league source told the Daily News that the Lakers stars got into a heated exchange following a New Year’s Day loss to the 76ers, and Bryant went for a low blow – referencing and agreeing with Shaquille O’Neal’s criticisms of Howard being soft.
Howard was restrained from going at his teammate, according to the source, and there have been rumblings from the center’s camp that he’s been unhappy with Bryant since earlier in the season.
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
@breck_onenot true chief.I keep it 100— Kobe Bryant (@kobebryant) January 7, 2013
Regardless of which side you want to believe, the truth probably lies somewhere between Bondy's report and the denials from Los Angeles.
They likely did have a heated conversation. Whether it nearly came to blows or not...we'll never know.
What we do know is that the Lakers currently sit three games under .500 and on the outside of the playoff picture in the Western Conference.
Things haven't exactly gone to plan.
Losing breeds frustration, frustration creates tension, and tension leads to disagreements and arguments. When you have two ultra-competitive athletes with overbearing personalities, those arguments can—and sometimes do—become heated.
Look, I'm not saying that Kobe and Howard need to become the best of friends.
Truth be told, they don't even have to like each other.
But if the Lakers are going to turn their season around, Kobe and Superman had better start to learn to co-exist.
They are the dominant personalities in the locker room, and the two most talented players the Lakers have on their roster.
It's not so much their on-the-court performance (which has been excellent for both), but how they handle each other in the locker room.
Taking snipes at each other, not speaking, glaring at one another—whatever it may be—it's the quickest way to create dissention among the ranks.
Guys are forced to choose—not publicly of course—whether they're a Dwight guy or a Kobe guy.
It's up to those two ensure that everyone behind those closed doors is a Lakers guy.