|"Let me help you with that, doctor." (Getty Images)|
In case you were wondering whether Kobe Bryant and/or Dwight Howard ended up going to and finishing medical school, the Los Angeles Lakers' center would like to inform you that they have not. With the Lakers short-handed in the front court and mainly in the win column, Bryant is hoping Howard will play through the pain and be on the court to help his team.
As much as Dwight wants to be out there and help his team, he also doesn't want to jeopardize his future and his health. Via Dave McMenamin of ESPN LA:
"I want to play," Howard said after participating in shootaround in advance of the Los Angeles Lakers' game against the Boston Celtics on Thursday. "I mean, why wouldn't I want to play? But at the same time, this is my career, this is my future, this is my life. I can't leave that up to anybody else because nobody else is going to take care of me. So, if people are pissed off that I don't play or if I do play, whatever it may be, so what? This is my career. If I go down, then what? Everybody's life is going to go on. I don't want to have another summer where I'm rehabbing and trying to get healthy again. I want to come back and have another great year. That's what I want to do."
When asked about Kobe saying the Lakers don't have time for Howard's shoulder to heal, Howard responded with, "That's his opinion; that's it. He's not a doctor. I'm not a doctor. That's his opinion."
With a potentially big free-agency period coming his way this summer, it is important for Howard to look out for his health and make sure he doesn't have any major medical red flags to accompany the personality red flags that he has put into the ground over the past two years, like he's claiming land in the movie Far and Away. Dwight having major back or shoulder issues moving forward could affect his free-agency status this summer if they're serious enough.
However, it's unlikely teams would seriously consider passing on him unless they look like long-term, debilitating problems. With that said, Pau Gasol's foot injury leaves a gaping hole in the Lakers' interior that they badly need their center to fill. Otherwise, you've got Robert Sacre, Antawn Jamison and Earl Clark filling the roles that the Lakers' brass assumed Gasol and Howard would be able to play this season.
That's not exactly a recipe for success.
Is it selfish for Howard to want to make sure he doesn't jeopardize his individual future and career? Probably. Is it understandable that he has to take care of himself in this situation? Absolutely. The Lakers just continue to be in a bad place this season.