- (Photo: Reuters/Jim Urquart)
Dwight Howard, Los Angeles Lakers center, is clearing up rumors about the words guard Kobe Bryant had for him during a recent team meeting.
The Lakers recent string of losses have resulted in them being eight games under .500 which prompted a team meeting before their 106-93 loss to the Memphis Grizzlies on Wednesday. After head coach Mike D'Antoni reportedly invited Lakers players to express their issues in the meeting, ESPN reported that a source spoke about Bryant telling Howard to let him know if he has a problem working with the all-star guard also known as "Black mamba."
However, Howard was quick to clear up these rumors after his team's loss to the Grizzlies, their 25th of the season.
"Whatever was said that (Bryant) said is not true," Howard said in an ESPN report. "He never asked me if I liked playing with him. I will say that. He never asked me."
Although Howard publicly complained about not getting enough shots after Monday night's loss to the Chicago Bulls, the center later told the press that he was not bothered playing with Bryant who is known for publicly holding teammates accountable for their mistakes.
"No, I'm not," Howard said after Wednesday's game where he aggravated a shoulder injury that forced him to leave before the second half of the game. "It's something that we all got to learn. We got to learn how to play together."
D'Antoni admitted that the team has had issues building their chemistry with a coaching change in the beginning of the season and new additions like Howard and point guard Steve Nash in the starting lineup.
"Obviously, our problems were the chemistry was not clicking. You try, 'OK, I'll push that guy, I'll pull that guy,' and you hope things overcome that and it didn't. It didn't," D'Antoni told the press after he called the meeting Wednesday. "Now you get down to brass tactics and open your heart up and let everything be raw and see if we can solve some of the problems or the issues and just go forward."
However, Lakers big man Pau Gasol was not too happy that the press learned about his team's meeting.
"The meeting was a team thing. It was intended to stay that way. I'm not going to talk about what was said or what wasn't said," Gasol told the press after his team's most recent loss Wednesday. "I think that's enough for us to talk about that we don't have to talk about what was said because I think it's something that should stay within the team and nothing should get leaked out in the first place."
Still, the Lakers coach did not mind talking about the exchange between his team and said he hoped that it was successful.
"I hope it is (a positive thing)," D'Antoni said. "That's the purpose of just trying to move forward, and hopefully it is. We'll see. We're in a rut right now, so the time to stand up, draw a line in the sand would be now."