The continuing chronicle of Dwight Howard versus The Free Throw Line hit a new rut for the Los Angeles Lakers center on Tuesday when Howard, at the end of the team’s morning shootaround, was defeated by Bailey, the Los Angeles Kings lion mascot, in a shooting contest
Upon Bailey’s invitation, according to Dave McMenamin of Sulia.com, Howard was challenged to a free throw shooting battle while the six-foot-tall lion visited the Lakers’ practice facility along with the MLS Cup in a promotional exchange. After Bailey won that contest, Howard nullified the victory by saying that it didn’t happen on the regulation court at the Toyota Sports Center, the El Segundo training facility shared by the Lakers and Kings.
Once on the main court, Bailey again beat Howard from beyond the charity stripe — and then defeated the NBA All-Star in a shooting contest from outside the three-point line.
“Don’t worry about losing to me in a shooting contest @dwighthoward you and the @lakers will be much happier,” the mascot tweeted.
But give Howard credit for keeping his sense of humor one month into a tumultuous start to his Lakers career. Los Angeles is 7-8 on the year, while Howard’s 3-for-12 free throw performance contributed to the Lakers 20 missed free throws in a two-point loss Tuesday night, and lowered his free throw shooting to 47.8 percent on the season.
“It doesn’t matter. It’s just a friendly game. I want him to feel good about himself,” Howard told Sulia.com. “That’s why I let him win. Kings are winners. See, we all are winners. He won. And we’re going to win tonight. Which means, that we’re all winners. Sometimes you got to lose to win. I would rather lose tonight than win now. It doesn’t count.”
He then called Pau Gasol over to offer a defense on his behalf, according to Sulia.com.
“Free throws . . . Yeah, he was just a little off. He’ll get it together tonight,” Gasol told Sulia.com.
Because the Kings players have been locked out since Howard’s arrival in Los Angeles, he hasn’t had the opportunity to catch the defending Stanley Cup champions in action.
“Yeah, I actually went on NHL ’99 on Sega Genesis. That’s the last time I saw the Kings play. That’s the last time I saw Bailey,” he said to reporters.
As for Bailey, he made sure to articulate a difference he had with his portrayal in the original story.
“I agree with everything but the “man in a suit” I am a LION!!!!” Bailey tweeted at McMenamin after the story broke.
In his own questionable defense, Howard wasn’t apparently trying to make his shots.
“Anything I can do to help the team. I was being a team player today, missing shots. Allowing him to get his shots off so he can feel good about himself,” he said.