Dwight Howard has missed the last three games with a nagging shoulder injury, and his teammates are starting to say that he needs to play through pain.First, Kobe Bryant told ESPN’s Jackie MacMullen:
“We don’t have time for (Howard’s shoulder) to heal. We need some urgency.”
“When I was growing up, going through high school and middle school, unfortunately but fortunately I dealt with injuries. Not injuries that were debilitating but injuries you have to play through where you have to manage the pain. When you go through those things you learn your body and what you can push through.
“But Dwight has never been hurt. The [back injury last season] was debilitating and he couldn’t play. When you have an injury that hurts you but you can play through it that’s something you have to balance out and manage and he’s never really had to do that.”
“I think everyone has got to play through some pain in this league …”
The Lakers have 34 games to make up a three-game deficit, leap-frog the Rockets and the Blazers and make the playoffs.
To make things even more dire, Pau Gasol is out for six weeks with an injury. So the Lakers need Dwight back ASAP.
But is urging him to play hurt the right way to go about it?
The torn labrum in his shoulder isn’t the kind of injury that keeps a player out for weeks and weeks.
But on the other hand, Dwight is clearly not 100% of what he used to be. He told ESPN Radio that he sometimes can’t feel his legs when he sits down because of the back injury he suffered last year, saying (via the LA Times):
“When I got injured, my nerves in my legs were short-circuited — so basically because of my disk being on my nerves . . . everything [shut] down from my back all the way down to my toes. It usually takes a year and some people take longer. Most of it has healed up in less than three months. That’s why I was able to come back and play as fast as I was, but I’m still not ready to play yet.”
It’s clear that the Lakers need Howard to make the playoffs this year. But they acquired him thinking he would be the long-term pillar of the franchise, so it’s risky to push him too hard.
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