Kobe Bryant is confused.
After causing an uproar by what many believe was an attempt to call out Dwight Howard, Bryant doesn't understand what all the "fuss" is about. He wasn't attempting to cause any conflict for himself, Howard or the Los Angeles Lakers in general.
Or at least that's what he says (via Ramona Shelburne of ESPNLosAngeles.com):
I didn't say anything wrong. I didn't say anything to hammer him over the head or take a run at him. That was actually manufactured. I'd own up to it if I took a run at somebody.
Urgency is something we've been trumpeting, we've been beating that drum since the beginning of the season when we started struggling.
And here we thought Howard was the only one who pointed fingers in Los Angeles.
Kobe definitely is the type of player who would "own up" to his attempts at causing a ruckus, but to assert that Los Angeles' drama has been "manufactured" is absurd.
"It is frustrating when things happen that are out of our control," Howard said when asked about Los Angeles' string of controversy. "But it just seems like we're the ones who are doing it or saying it."
Color Dwight right.
I don't doubt that the Lakers are preaching urgency behind closed doors in addition to the media, and I also won't hesitate to believe this Bryant and Howard feud is being taken out of context. But I'll only buy into that to a certain extent.
Aside from demanding Pau Gasol begin sporting his "big boy pants" earlier in the season, Kobe hasn't spoken (at least not publicly) of anyone the way he has Howard.
Did he suggest that Steve Nash nursed his leg injury for too long? Has he implied that Gasol should bring his crutches on the court and play through his torn plantar fascia?
No, he hasn't. He has taken exception to only Howard. And while this is not to say that he despises the behemoth, he's clearly harboring some form of resentment.
Maybe he's sick of hearing Howard moan about his injuries. Perhaps he's done watching Howard point to the box score after subpar performances. Maybe what we interpret as criticism is simply the Black Mamba's version of a hug.
"At least the Shaq stuff was actually warranted," Bryant said. "This is just comical."
If Kobe continues to downplay the genuine problems the Lakers are facing, it won't be long until the "comical" becomes just plain sad.