It’s one thing for Kobe Bryant to throw a teammate under the bus; that’s happened before. But for Steve Nash to go out of his way and make an example (once again) of Dwight Howard for the reason things aren’t going well for the Los Angeles Lakers? Things are bad.
A tough loss in Miami brought the anger out of Nash, seen shouting at Howard on the court. It’s not something you usually see from a guy often described as the perfect teammate, and during his best season with the Phoenix Suns, made sure everyone playing around him finished with career highs when it came to their scoring average.
And it’s a story of sides, of picking sides. Kobe Bryant called out Dwight Howard for being soft without using that exact words, and the rest of the team followed – from the head coach to the rest of the players. It always seemed like Steve Nash was a bit above and outside the entire drama going on with the most followed franchise in the NBA – Dwight Howard stories, Kobe Bryant being dissected for shooting and for passing, Pau Gasol not being the player he once was.
And now, Nash, maybe because he actually feels Howard isn’t giving it all, or maybe because someone directed him to, is speaking out about the teammate that gets more criticism than anyone else at the moment. Maybe it was a tactic by Bryant to take the heat off him, but hasn’t helped the Lakers, whatever his initial plan was. Howard comes back to the court to play basketball, but it’s clear he’s not himself. Not on defense, not on offense, where he has been struggling all season fitting in with the pick n’ roll Mike D’antoni wants to see.
And Howard isn’t making the change. He posts up and waits for the ball. He doesn’t make cuts on screens, he doesn’t roll on picks, even when Kobe Bryant is watched and Steve Nash is often trapped early in the attack. That happened too many times for Nash, who was beyond frustration with his center on Sunday afternoon in Miami.
We’d like to get him in the pick and roll more. I think that’s how he was really good in Orlando. He’d pick and he’d dive and they’d swing and put it in to him, so he could get deeper catches and the help side has a more difficult time coming to him. I don’t know. It’s been difficult really to get him into that game – running into pick and rolls, diving hard, looking for the ball. We really haven’t found that rhythm from him yet.
So it becomes a story of who is to blame – Dwight Howard, for not making the right kind of effort on the floor, or the Lakers offense, directed by Kobe Bryant above everyone else, which simply isn’t going the direction Howard thought it would. It’s once again, like it was last year, a question of one player, feeling something opposite than love from his teammates and maybe the organization and his attempt to bend the team to his wishes his needs.
Stan Van Gundy always felt that Howard’s biggest asset is his defense, but Howard isn’t happy or too motivated to be a defensive force if he doesn’t get the amount of touches he wants, in the places he wants. The Lakers do need Howard to re-sign, but as of now, he’s not exactly feeling welcomed by the organization.
In a story of egos, we’ll never know who has the bigger one. All the talk about being the franchise player get thrown out the window. As long as Kobe Bryant is wearing Lakers gold, no one is going to be more important on the floor than him. It can last for a few games, but not for longer than that, which is what the Lakers actually need. It’s now only a matter of who gives up on who and what – Dwight Howard on trying to get things to go his way, while actually making people believe he’s actually injured and not just lacking motivation, or the Lakers, in general, on a failed attempt to create a mega-star team.