However, a former Laker legend is not a fan of Howard's constant on-court grinning. In a radio interview, Robert Horry, also known as "Big Shot Rob," was critical of the three-time Defensive Player of the Year's laid-back approach and did not mince words, according to Janis Carr of the Orange County Register:
"You want a guy to be more focused," Horry said, pointing to LeBron James' no-nonsense demeanor in last season's playoffs. "That's the kind of guy you want, someone who's focused, not fun-loving."
Upon learning of Horry's words, Howard had an opinion of his own to share. Like the former Lakers clutch shooter, he was not shy with his words:
"I play basketball, get paid a lot of money to play basketball, something that teachers and police officers and firemen should (get). But I'm getting paid for it, so I'm going to have fun. I don't care who has a problem with it."
Howard, 27, said Horry needs to stop criticizing him because "I think it's stupid. I never judged him on how he played. Just because I smile and have fun doesn't mean I don't take the game seriously. I came here to win championships. I came here to dominate and I'm going to do it with a smile on my face. I'm going to play the way I want to play."
All words aside, Howard is right. Horry has no place criticizing Howard's disposition, and if he thinks that's the reason the team has underachieved this season, he clearly isn't watching the same Lakers team I have.
The problem with the Lakers is not that Howard is more "fun-loving" than he is focused, but that the players have zero confidence on offense. Instead of a balanced attack, they look to Kobe Bryant to be the savior from start to finish and not just in key moments. Last I checked, Howard's propensity to smile had nothing to do with either problem.
That said, Horry needs to back off of Howard, let the Lakers play the game and figure out their problems on their own. I understand that it must hurt watching his former team struggle so badly, but it's not his place to single out one player as the culprit.
Howard should continue smiling and doing what he does, as in the fine work that will hopefully get the Lakers out of their funk and into the playoffs.