You don't exactly need Miss Cleo to realize that there is some dysfunction in the heart of Laker Land right now.
At a time when Los Angeles should be getting its ship righted in time to make a strong push for the playoffs, personality clashes have brought the lack of harmony on this roster back to the surface heading into tonight's annual grudge match in Boston.
Kobe Bryant, the mercurial icon of the Lakers who wills himself to play through all things painful, insists that Dwight Howard should be able to do to the same for the good of the team. You know, the good of his pursuit for a sixth title.
However, Howard, once again in a tenuous contract situation, is not exactly in a big hurry to return to the court and risk further injury.
Depending on who you talk to, that is something that either can't happen, won't happen or could very well happen. Either way, it serves to reinforce the chasm that exists between the hyper-intense Bryant, who smiles about as often as Republicans compliment President Obama during the basketball season, and Howard, who never met a moment he couldn't find the lighter side of.
The timing of this latest he said, he said (per the Los Angeles Times' Mike Bresnahan and T.J. Simers) couldn't be more inopportune.
The Lakers are finally playing with some semblance of cohesion and are a blown opportunity in Phoenix away from being on a seven-game winning streak. The defense has improved enough, and with Bryant moving the ball, the offense has masked enough deficiencies to close the gap on Utah, Houston and Portland in the playoff chase.
And now this.
I get it, someone with Bryant's pedigree is weary of having to massage the large, fragile ego of Howard, who has neither his hardware nor outward drive to be great. From the outside, that makes perfect sense.
The only problem with that in real-world terms is this: Kobe Bryant isn't winning a thing without Dwight Howard. With Pau Gasol out a minimum of four weeks, the Lakers are at a crisis point in this season—even as they have begun to win. Without the size advantage they possessed, wins will not come as bountifully as they have in the past two weeks.
Furthermore, if Bryant's media sniping continues, you can be sure that it drives Howard out of Los Angeles. Well, at least from the Lakers. And Bryant's track record suggests no big men, no hardware for the Lakers.
Gasol might be a better fit at the center position, but he and Earl Clark are not winning a title for the Lakers in 2014 either—let alone this year.
The bottom line is Bryant has not learned from his mistakes (yes, he has made his share) from the past with Shaquille O'Neal. Making the assumption that what you do should be accomplished by your teammates is a sure way for those teammates to play less than all out beside you.
Which means no jewelry if you're Kobe Bryant.
And worse, if you're a Laker fan, that could very well mean no Dwight Howard after the 2013 season.
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