Kiki's NBA cuts: Howard's injuries are for real

BY foxsports • February 12, 2013

It is no secret that the Lakers are going through a turbulent time. What was originally designed as a super team never quite materialized. Expectations were unreasonably high for this team and when expectations do not meet reality, there is always dissatisfaction.

One of the biggest sources of this dissatisfaction is injuries, especially to Dwight Howard. He has been called out by teammates and fans alike for not playing due to injury. Although frustrating, injuries are part of the game and everybody needs to respect the fact that when Howard says he can’t play, he really is not able to play.

It would be different if Howard had a long history of not playing through pain and injury. Before this most recent back injury, Dwight played as a virtual iron man, rarely missing a game or even a practice. Back injuries are terribly debilitating. I should know, a back injury crippled most of my career and eventually ended it.

Howard has never been at 100 percent for the Lakers this year and anybody who has seen him play knows that. The problem with playing with an injury is that it not only affects you physically but mentally as well. You are not confident in your body's ability and it takes a very long time to gain the confidence back.

With the lack of confidence comes hesitation. Basketball or any other sport can’t be played hesitant. First you are not as effective. Second, eventually you injure something else. That is exactly what happened to Howard. He now has a shoulder injury, which will eventually require surgery.

Although the shoulder and back injuries will not get worse by playing, they are a constant source of irritation and pain. The danger is that this leads to more hesitant play and because you are hesitant and protecting your injuries, you hurt something else. This is not what the Lakers want to hear but it is a reality of injuries and professional sports.

So, should Dwight Howard play? Only he can make that decision and as painful as it may be for his teammates and Laker fans, we all need to respect it.

The return of Chris Paul
If there was any doubt how valuable Chris Paul is to this Clippers team, just replay their last two games against Philadelphia and New York. His dynamic fingerprints were all over those victories. Just by him being on the court, everybody else got better. He has turned around a franchise and demonstrated again why he may be the most valuable player in the league.

Also, if you think defending the 3-point line is not important, just think about this: On their eight-game Grammy road trip, opponents shot 54% in the Clipper losses and 29% in the Clipper wins from the 3-point line.

All-Star weekend
The All-Star game is only part of what happens during All-Star weekend. The slam dunk contest, 3-point contest, skills contest and the rising stars game highlight what has become a celebration of the best the NBA has to offer. The talent on display is always second to none but there is a lot more that goes on behind the scenes.

This is one of the most important weekends before the trade deadline. All general managers and coaches will be together in one place and many deals are discussed and made. Ideas are exchanged and information is passed along. They will be huddling in almost every hotel lobby across Houston.

Almost every top player in the league will be in Houston as well. Many players use this weekend as a recruiting trip. They talk to each other about playing together and how great their respective cities are. This is a much bigger part of All-Star weekend than most people might imagine.

While most fans are watching the tremendous display of talent in Houston this weekend, the real action is going on behind the scenes. It's the action that many times decides the direction of teams and players for years to come.

Game of the week
On Thursday, the Oklahoma City Thunder take on
the Miami Heat. This, of course, means that we have the dynamic face-off
between Kevin Durant and LeBron James. These two teams and players have
been steamrolling the rest of the NBA. This is a rematch of last year's
NBA finals and both superstars have never played better.

Oh yeah,
there are a few other guys in this game as well. Oklahoma City Russell
Westbrook and Serge Ibaka and Miami's Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh, all
superstars who could take over and win any game all by themselves.

By the way, Lakers and Clippers face off in a battle for LA on Thursday as well. What a night of hoops.

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