Is there a doctor in the house? Dwight Howard doesn’t think so.
Firing back at criticism from Kobe Bryant that he doesn’t play through pain, the oft-injured Howard who is dealing with a shoulder problem, questioned his Laker teammates’ medical expertise.
“That's his opinion, that's it," Howard said after Thursday morning’s shootaround in Boston, where the two foes meet Thursday night. "He's not a doctor, I'm not a doctor. That's his opinion."
On Wednesday, Bryant said the center needs to toughen up, in a hurry, if the Lakers have any shot of reaching the playoffs.
Bryant chided Howard for worrying "too much about what people think" and said that that mindset "gets him away from what he should be doing" in a candid interview with ESPN Boston.
The 34-year-old Bryant also stressed that Howard needs to learn to play through the pain in his right shoulder as the Lakers — currently 10th in the West — try to keep their playoff hopes alive now that Pau Gasol is out due to a foot injury that could keep the 7-foot Spaniard sidelined for up to six weeks.
"We don't have time for (Howard's shoulder) to heal," said Bryant, who's dealing with tendinitis in his shooting elbow. "We need some urgency."
"We don't have three years. We've got this year," Bryant said in response to Howard's earlier cry for patience as the Lakers work to integrate a number of new players, including himself and Steve Nash, into new coach Mike D'Antoni's system.
Howard shot back at that, too, saying, “I want to play. 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."