Dwight Howard Goes After Critics, Kobe Bryant Over Injury Reports

Dwight Howard is firing back at those questioning just how bad a shoulder injury is setting the star back.

Critics said that Howard should have been able to return from the torn labrum that has kept him out the past three games. Kobe Bryant even joined in, telling ESPN Boston‘s Jackie MacMullan on Wednesday, “We don’t have time for [Howard’s shoulder] to heal. … We need some urgency.”

Now Dwight Howard is speaking out, saying that he would return if he were able, but that he’s not about to risk his livelihood, ESPN reported.

After the team’s shootaround on Thursday, Howard said:

“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.”

Dwight Howard had words for Kobe in particular.

“That’s his opinion, that’s it,” Howard said. “He’s not a doctor, I’m not a doctor. That’s his opinion.”

The center’s lashing out comes as trade rumors have circulated. Though the Lakers have denied reports, Pro Basketball Talks and other outlets noted that it appears Dwight Howard is on his way out of Los Angeles before the season is over.