Maybe reports of an escalating feud between Kobe Bryant and Dwight Howard are little more than fodder for hyperbolic headlines. Maybe they're even better fodder for Bryant and Howard to have some fun with said reports.
But you can't help but think there just might be something to this.
One needn't have had a crystal ball to suspect Bryant and Howard would clash. It wouldn't be the first time Kobe found himself at odds with a dominant big man sharing his spotlight. And like the first iteration thereof, D12 prefers wit and whim to the Black Mamba's killer instinct.
Dwight Howard is smiling, Kobe Bryant is not. twitter.com/BleacherReport…— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) January 12, 2013
Lakers fans here are going crazy during the timeout. Dwight is looking up at them, smiling and clapping.— KEVIN DING (@KevinDing) January 10, 2013
They say opposites attract, but the honeymoon period is long over in Los Angeles. It didn't make it past the preseason.
In a wave of fingers pointed every which way but toward a title, Howard is looking less and less like a savior and more like the guy the Orlando Magic had to deal with last season.
He's not playing, but Lakers acquisition of Dwight Howard perhaps all-time worst basketball decision that sounded really good at the time.— Sam Amico (@SamAmicoFSO) January 12, 2013
Only 2 teams haven't won in 2013: Dwight Howard's old team and his new team.— Royce Webb, ESPN NBA (@RoyceWebb) January 12, 2013
Is Bryant feeling some buyer's remorse? Or is Howard just horrible at this whole PR thing?
Dwight Howard meets with his therapist to discuss the Lakers 15-20 start: twitter.com/si_vault/statu…— Andy Gray (@si_vault) January 11, 2013
Dwight butchered his image amidst an excruciating exit from Orlando, but the prospect of returning the legendary Lakers to great heights made that messy divorce seem like ancient history. Why would Lakers fans care about that kind of baggage?
Well, now they're facing some baggage of their own—a suddenly oft-injured, less explosive version of the guy conventional wisdom deemed the best center in basketball. That guy will expect a rich, lengthy contract in the offseason to boot.
Smiling may not be a crime, but nor is it endearing without exception. The depths of a season in despair are one such exception.
No one has to explain that to Kobe Bryant.