Kobe Bryant calls Dwight Howard a ‘teddy bear’ after chippy, chirpy game (video)
In hindsight it should have been easy to predict that there would be some bad blood between former teammates Kobe Bryant and Dwight Howard as the Los Angeles Lakers and Houston Rockets on Tuesday night.
The extent to which said bad blood boiled over arguably is the only surprising aspect of the surly nature of the hostile interaction between the two on the court, not to mention the softer, more measured tones both players used after the game when discussing the dustup.
Flared tempers erupted and trash talk between the two occurred during the fourth quarter. With the game well in hand for the Rockets, up by 25 with little more than seven minutes remaining, Howard snagged a rebound.
Kobe got up close and personal to contest the Rockets big man’s attempt at an outlet past, which is when Howard began to throw some elbows to clear space, one of which caught Bryant on the chin.
After a review Bryant was charged with a foul and Howard a flagrant foul 1 for their respective roles in the confrontation. Both players were also assessed a technical foul as well.
Following the play, not-so-pleasantries were exchanged, with Kobe appearing to say “Try me” to Howard and later referring to his former teammate as “soft” from the bench.
GIF: Kobe Bryant to Dwight Howard after tussle: “Try Me” http://t.co/lzgVr20L4P
— Ben Golliver (@BenGolliver) October 29, 2014
And here’s Kobe appearing to wave off Howard after the game had concluded.
The two did, however, attempt to downplay the severity, seriousness or the possibility of any lingering bad blood following the on-court confrontation.
Kobe simply stated it’s all part of the game.
“He elbowed me in the face, and I’m gonna let him know, I don’t like that,” Bryant said afterward, via an ESPN.com report. “It’s that simple.”
“It’s fantastic,” Bryant continued. “That’s the game. That’s all part of the game. Elbows are a part of the game. Trash-talking is part of the game. I don’t know where the NBA became so sensitive. It’s all part of it.”
Howard, meanwhile, wasn’t willing to fan any flames, refusing even to discuss the details or specifics of what had transpired at any length.
“What do y’all want me to say, because I’m not [going] to give y’all nothing,” Howard said, per ESPN. “It’s stupid. We won the game. It’s over with. I mean, there’s no need to go into it. We won the game. It’s about basketball. I mean it’s over with. It’s nothing. I’m not even focused on it.”
Howard is right to some extent in that the he and the Rockets got the last laugh courtesy of a convincing 108-90 win.
Bryant did appear to reinforce the meaning behind the apparent shot he took at Howard during the confrontation about being soft with a backhanded compliment of sorts to his ex-teammate.
“You can’t help but like him,” Bryant said, with a reported smile. “He’s a teddy bear. You can’t help but like him. I really meant that. He’s a really nice kid. But you know, when you’re competing, you have a goal in mind. I know one way to get there. There’s certain times when we didn’t see eye to eye, but that wasn’t one of those situations.”
It’s hard to say if that’s Kobe trying to play nice or attempting to ratchet up the tension for the next time these two teams face each other on the hardwood. Stay tuned.
(GIFs via CJ Fogler/Twitter)