Reports that Los Angeles Lakers center Dwight Howard tried to physically assault teammate Kobe Bryant after a game against the Philadelphia 76ers were bad. But if whispers coming from LakersNation.com are true then the subtle feud between the players may be about to take center stage.
According to the website Howard has begun to mock Bryant's current shooting woes behind his back, and if this is true the rift between the players may be greater than we think. And implausibly the Lakers season could be on it's way from terrible to whatever could be worse.
Bryant's 46.7 shooting percentage from the field is a career best, but in the Lakers' last two losses Bryant has taken 55 shots from the field and only managed to connect on 17 of them.
That's terrible for sure but it's not like Dwight, Mr. 50 percent from the charity stripe Howard really has much room to criticize, but getting lost in the content of the alleged attack is missing the point.
The Lakers are currently seven games below .500 and appear to be in no danger of qualifying for the postseason which would place the 2012-13 version squarely in the running for the greatest sports bust of all time.
Even worse, if Bryant and Howard really are at odds it means the chances of the Lakers reaching that infamous title are even greater than the outside chance the Lakers reach the playoffs.
Kobe and Howard were the main reasons that the Lakers were viewed as primary contenders to reach the 2013 NBA Finals, and ironically their relationship could be the very reason they fail to reach that goal.
Some people would love to paint Kobe as the antagonist in this picture, but if the marriage has already turned sour then both players are guilty of tarnishing it, but the results will weigh on Bryant longer since it is his legacy at stake.
Regardless of how much allure Los Angeles holds for Howard there was never any guarantee that he would stay beyond this season and as the Lakers' season continues to nose-dive the prospects of Howard bolting for other pastures only increases.
And a feud with Bryant certainly doesn't help the situation.
For his part Bryant has said that he has tried to reach out to Howard, and has shared everything from reading material to late night phone calls and messages in an effort to bond and connect with Howard.
Bryant seems to understand that the slim chances of him winning a final championship are growing even slimmer, and Howard's indifference to the situation is either a sign of his immaturity or a declaration that he could care less what Bryant wants or thinks.
Bryant's surreal admission that the Lakers' current situation isn't working might come off as scary to some who may see it as a sign of resignation, but what if Bryant's statement could actually be boiled down to his realtionship with Howard?
That may be a stretch, but Howard's casual five shot, five foul performance against the Chicago Bulls Monday night was telling in his body language which seemed to scream he would rather be anywhere rather than the United Center at the moment.
It's hard to find many genuine emotions or self reflection behind Howard's constant, and sometimes goofy smile and demeanor, but maybe he's hiding his true feelings inside his resentment for Bryant.
Hopefully for Lakers fans this report really is just a rumor, but after the incidents which have preceded it you have to wonder how much truth may be lying beneath the surface.
Head coach Mike D'Antoni may be the only person alive who believes the Lakers can still save their sinking ship, which is probably what the captain of the Titanic thought right up until his mighty ship was swallowed by the ocean.