Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant says his call for "urgency" was not him calling out center Dwight Howard, and that his comments became a "manufactured conflict."
Bryant told the media before the Lakers practice on Monday that, "I didn't say anything wrong. I didn't say anything to hammer him over the head or take a run at him. That was actually manufactured. I'd own up to it if I took a run at somebody.
"Urgency is something we've been trumpeting, we've been beating that drum since the beginning of the season when we started struggling."
Bryant is referring to comments he made when he interviewed with ESPNBoston.com' Jackie MacMullan before the Lakers played the Boston Celtics last Thursday. Howard had missed three previous games with a torn labrum in his right shoulder. That same time the team learned forward Pau Gasol would be sidelined for at least six to eight weeks with a tear in the plantar fascia of his right foot.
"We don't have time for [Howard's shoulder] to heal," Bryant told MacMullan. "We need some urgency. [Howard] has never been in a position where someone is driving him as hard as I am, as hard as this organization is.
"It's win a championship or everything is a complete failure. That's just how we [the Lakers] do it. And that's foreign to him."
Bryant said he reached out to Howard to make sure he understood "it's nothing."
Coach Mike D'Antoni was asked Monday if he could have handled the situation a little better.
"We will sit down with a player, we sit down with players all the time. I'm not going to play it out through the media. I don't think it's right. I don't think any team I've been on has ever done that, and I'm really surprised here in L.A. that seems to be the norm. ... That's not good."
Howard wants his Lakers teammates to just focus on playing basketball.
"We have to find a way to stay away from [controversy] and focus as much as we can on what we can control on the floor and leave the noise to everyone else," Howard said.
"It is frustrating when things happen that are our of our control. But it just seems like we're the ones who are doing it or saying it."