Wednesday’s game was highlighted for the Lakers not only by a win but also by Kobe Bryant becoming just the fifth player to reach the 30,000 point mark. He also became the youngest to achieve the feat.
But during the game, Dwight Howard became upset with Bryant after the latter failed to rotate over on defence allowing Hornets centre Robin Lopez a couple of easy buckets.
“We’re still learning each other’s game. I have no problem saying anything to anybody and it should be that way,” Howard said. “We have to be able to talk to each other. We’re a team, we’re a family, and the more chemistry we develop, the better we will be as a team.”
Bryant did not seem overly concerned despite the two stars having words on and off the court.
“It’s just how I lead,” he said. “I’ve been that way when I was 18 and I’m the same way now. That’s how I’ve found to be successful, at least for me and my style of leadership and winning championships. That’s just how it’s going to be.”
It remains to be seen how failing on defence turns into leading a team but Bryant clearly sees himself as the captain of the Lakers ship.
The Lakers have struggled mightily with the Thunder as of late.
Last season the Thunder took two of three during the regular season and then dispatched the Lakers from the playoffs in five games.
Bryant said he admires Thunder stars Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook, saying they are throwbacks to old-school players.
“They just don’t give a (hoot),” Bryant told the Los Angeles Daily News. “That’s really it. Not too many players have had that. Michael (Jordan) had it. I had it. Durant has it. Westbrook has it. They just don’t care about pressure situations or criticism.”
Bryant believes that the Thunder stars may have picked up some of that attitude watching Bryant while they were growing up.
“For sure,” he said. “They watched me growing up and saw how I dealt with criticism and all this other stuff. I just put my head down and kept playing … They’re cut from the same cloth.”
LeBron vs. Kevin
Bryant isn’t the only NBA player that admires Durant’s work.
When Miami Heat star LeBron James was named Sports Illustrated Sportsman of the Year earlier this week he told the magazine that Durant is pushing him to be better.
“I know there is someone, somewhere, trying to take my spot,” James said in SI. “And I know where he is, too. He’s in Oklahoma. He’s my inspiration because I see the direction he’s headed, and it’s the same direction I’m headed. I know his mindset and he knows mine. It’s a collision course. We’re driving one another.”
Durant humbly responded by saying that he knows fans believe the two should be rivals in more of a traditional sense, but despite being friends with James he does enjoy the opportunity to be pushed when facing the game’s best.
“Well, I really appreciate that comment because people want us to hate each other so bad. That’s true. People want us to hate each other,” Durant told the Oklahoman. “I really respect him and I really compete against him hard — him and Kobe (Bryant). I play against those guys, they’re the guys who I’m looking at, who I want to get to, and I compete against those guys really, really hard, but we’re friends. We’re friends, everybody knows that. Once you get on that court and you’re playing against one of your friends, you play to win no matter what. Sometimes he might get the best of you, I might get the best of him one time. But I really respect him (James) and that’s cool that he thinks of me that way and I’ve just got to keep working hard to continue to get better.”